The Important Role Of Exercise In Preventing A Stroke

What is a stroke?

A stroke is the loss of blood flow to a region of the brain, this loss can occur because of a manifestation of cardiovascular disease, characterized by the build up of atherosclerotic plaque in cerebrovascular arteries. This ultimately will lead to an ischemic stroke, which is due to a blood clot sealing off the artery, these types of strokes account for 87% of all strokes, however strokes can also occur from excessive bleeding, this is referred to as a hemorrhagic stroke.

Another type of stroke is a transient ischemic attack (TIA), which is caused by a temporary cut in blood supply to the brain due to the partial blockage of an artery, a TIA will have the same symptoms as a stroke but will subside as the clot naturally dissolves or is dislodged. This is generally a warning sign that an ischemic stroke may occur in the coming days or weeks. When a stroke occurs, neurons in the brain die and the accompanying brain damage is the main cause of subsequent disability in stroke survivors. The brain damage can impair voluntary muscle movement, speech, vision and judgment.

How can you reduce your risk?

Reducing risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and type 2 diabetes are the most significant actions that you can undertake to reduce your risk of a stroke. A Healthy lifestyle that includes a good balanced diet and exercise will significantly decrease these risk factors, with today’s society becoming more and more sedentary it is pivotal that exercise and diet become a priority.

Below are some tips in implementing exercise and healthy eating into your day:

  • Decrease screen time
  • Always take the option of walking if possible
  • Be prepared with your meals so that snacking and take away is not an option
  • Seek help through a dietician if you’re unsure of what healthy eating is
  • Use tools that provide external feedback such as Fit bit (Tracking amount of steps)
  • Plan your exercise and set goals, if you have set times for when you should be exercising and makes it a lot harder to make excuses
  • Change mode of exercise to keep variability in your life
  • Workout with a friend to increase enjoyment and motivation

Importance of exercise

Exercise will improve body composition and therefore decrease the risk factors of stroke such as hypertension and obesity. If you’re unfortunate enough to have a stroke, there a generally disabilities that will accompany it, the main goal of exercise is to improve these disabilities, for example if you were to experience weakness of one limb, the goal would be to improve strength and function of that limb. However in saying that, one of the most important factors is improving cardiorespiratory fitness, the average Vo2 Max of a stroke patient is approximately 14.4ml/kg, which is of great concern because 20ml/kg has been suggested as the minimum necessary for independent living.

If you’re concerned about certain risk factors that you have, or you have suffered from a stroke and need rehabilitation, contact one of our friendly staff at Optimum Health Solutions who will provide you with the education and exercise that you need. Optimum Health Solutions delivers a comprehensive heart health program incorporating both exercise and nutrition.

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