Exercising to Prevent a Stroke
British Columbia Specific Information
A stroke is a brain injury caused by blood flow to the brain being blocked, or bleeding in the brain. After having a stroke you may experience physical, mental and emotional complications. These could include: weakness on one side of the body, joint pain, trouble walking, speech and language difficulties, trouble with memory or focusing, etc. Stroke rehabilitation programs can help you continue to live as independently as possible after a stroke, and to learn to adjust to the physical and mental changes caused by your stroke.
To find stroke recovery and rehabilitation programs in your area, search HealthLinkBC's FIND Services and Resources Directory. For more information on stroke recovery, visit Heart and Stroke Foundation or Stroke Recovery Association of British Columbia.
For more information on exercising to prevent a stroke or rehabilitation exercises after a stroke, visit Physical Activity Line (PAL) or call 1-877-725-1149 toll-free anywhere in British Columbia, or 604-241-2266 in Greater Vancouver. You may also call 8-1-1 to speak with a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Exercise helps lower high blood pressure, which is an important risk factor for stroke. Exercise can help you control other things that put you at risk, such as obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes.
Exercise to lower your risk of stroke
It is important to exercise regularly. Do activities that raise your heart rate. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate to vigorous exercise. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week. Start slowly and gradually build up your exercise program.
Moderate activity is safe for most people, but it's always a good idea to talk with your doctor before you start an exercise program. You can use your target heart rate to figure out how hard to exercise. Use this Interactive Tool: What Is Your Target Heart Rate?
Low-intensity exercise, if done daily, also can have some long-term health benefits and lower the risk for heart problems that may lead to stroke. Low-intensity exercises have a lower risk of injury and are recommended for people with other health problems. Some low-intensity activities are:
- Gardening and other yard work.
For more information about making a personal fitness plan, see the topic Fitness: Getting and Staying Active.
Exercise to prevent another stroke
If you have already had a stroke or transient ischemic attack (TIA) and you can still do physical activity, doctors recommend ½ to 1½ hours a week of moderate exercise. One way to do this is to be active 30 minutes a day, 1 to 3 days a week.
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Other Works Consulted
- Meschia JF, et al. (2014). Guidelines for the primary prevention of stroke: A statement for healthcare professionals from the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association. Stroke, published online October 28, 2014. DOI: 10.1161/STR.0000000000000046. Accessed October 29, 2014.
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Karin M. Lindholm, DO - Neurology
Current as ofAugust 21, 2015
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