Keeping active

Regular exercise can reduce your risk of stroke by a quarter. It can help with your overall recovery and is an important part of your rehabilitation after a stroke.

If you have recently had a stroke, you may not be able to be more active straight away. But when you feel ready, talk to your doctor or therapist about what is right for you. What and how much you can do will depend on the extent of your stroke and your individual limitations. Depending how your stroke has affected you, you may need to adapt your activities or try new ones.

How much physical activity should I do?

Over the course of a week, you should aim to do 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate intensity activity. This can be broken down in to manageable amounts of time to suit you. Just ten minutes at a time on a regular basis can provide health benefits. It is important to start gradually and slowly build up the amount of activity
you do.

‘Moderate’ intensity activity means being slightly breathless but still able to hold a conversation; for example, a brisk walk would normally be classed as ‘moderate’ activity.

Exercise can be enjoyable!

If you do something you enjoy, you will be more likely to stick with it.

Here are some other tips that might help:

  • Try to build physical activity into your daily routine. For example, walk part of the way to work, use the stairs instead of taking the lift.
  • If you are able to do some form of regular exercise, choose something that keeps your limbs moving and makes you breathe in more air, such as swimming, walking, cycling or dancing.
  • Remember to warm up before you start and slow down gradually at the end, to prevent injury.
  • Try to include muscle strengthening activity at least two days a week to keep your muscles, bones and joints strong. This includes activities such as exercising with weights, yoga or tai chi, gardening or simply carrying your shopping.
  • Aim to gradually increase what you do in small stages. Joining a club or exercise class can help to keep you motivated. If you chose an activity that you enjoy you are more likely to keep exercising.
  • If your mobility has been affected and you use a wheelchair, you can do chair-based exercises. These involve a series of seated stretches and movements to increase your heart rate and exercise your muscles and joints. Wiggling your feet or making circles with your ankles regularly can be a good way of seated exercise and can help your lower-body circulation. There may also be chair-based exercise classes held at local leisure centres or community centres in your area that you could join.

Call the CHSS Advice Line nurses on 0808 801 0899 for details of organisations and resources for chair-based exercises or other local classes that can help you increase your physical activity.

For more information about staying active after a stroke, see our Essential Guide to Physical Activity (PDF).