After you have a stroke, you should remember that exercise and strength training is important for your recovery. It also can prevent another stroke.

That said, only 57% of stroke survivors get regular exercise, according to a recent survey of 11,800 stroke survivors.

That is a shame, because sitting around inactive after a stroke is not good for us, according to Argye Beth Hillis, MD, executive vice chair of the department of neurology and co-director of the cerebrovascular division at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Hillis notes that any sort of aerobic exercise helps you, such as swimming, jogging, weight training, and anything that gets your heart rate up. She also has done research that suggests that regular exercise will mean less damage from strokes in the future.

Some of the benefits of exercise for stroke patients include:
  • Keeps cholesterol under control: Low cholesterol can prevent another stroke, and exercise also boosts 'good' cholesterol.
  • Fights hypertension: Exercise maintains the health of your blood vessels, and reduces high blood pressure.
  • Keeps weight down: Many stroke survivors are overweight. Losing weight reduces stroke risk.
  • Reduces depression: Depression is common after a stroke. It can be tough to motivate yourself to stay active. But being physically active keeps depression at bay.

Exercise Goals

After you consult with your doctor and you both determine you are ready to start an exercise program, shoot for these goals:

  • 30 minutes of activity 4 times per week
  • Be active in everything you do - park further away from your destination
  • Try water aerobics or chair aerobics
  • If you use a cane or walker, make it part of your routine. A good physical therapist will show you how you can build a walker into your exercise program.