Exercise Can Help Prevent Strokes
May is National Stroke Awareness Month. 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. However, with simple lifestyle changes you can help prevent strokes.
Life’s Simple 7®
The American Heart Association has created Life’s Simple 7 which are the 7 risk factors that people can improve through lifestyle changes to help achieve ideal cardiovascular health.
- Manage Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. When your blood pressure stays within healthy ranges, you reduce the strain on your heart, arteries, and kidneys which keeps you healthier longer.
- Control Cholesterol
High cholesterol contributes to plaque, which can clog arteries and lead to heart disease and stroke. When you control your cholesterol, you are giving your arteries their best chance to remain clear of blockages.
- Reduce Blood Sugar
Most of the food we eat is turned into glucose (or blood sugar) that our body uses for energy. Over time, high levels of blood sugar can damage your heart, kidneys, eyes and nerves.
- Get Active
Living an active life is one of the most rewarding gifts you can give yourself and those you love. Simply put, daily physical activity increases your length and quality of life.
- Eat Better
A healthy diet is one of your best weapons for fighting cardiovascular disease. When you eat a heart-healthy diet, you improve your chances for feeling good and staying healthy – for life!
- Lose Weight
When you shed extra fat and unnecessary pounds, you reduce the burden on your heart, lungs, blood vessels and skeleton. You give yourself the gift of active living, you lower your blood pressure and you help yourself feel better, too.
- Stop Smoking
Cigarette smokers have a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease. If you smoke, quitting is the best thing you can do for your health.
Any person can make these changes, the steps are not expensive to take and even modest improvements to your health will make a big difference. Start with one or two and then move onto the others. This simple, seven step list has been developed to deliver on the hope we all have–to live a long, productive healthy life.
Exercise to lower your risk of stroke
One of the Life’s 7 Steps is exercise. The best type of exercise for high blood pressure is aerobic exercise which uses large muscle groups continuously and rhythmically, such as walking and cycling. Try to do at least 2½ hours a week of moderate-to vigorous-intensity 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. Muscle and bone strengthening exercises can also be done, but should complement rather than replace aerobic exercise.
Moderate-intensity aerobic and muscle and bone strengthening exercise is safe for most people, but it’s always a good idea to talk with your healthcare provider before you start an exercise program. You can use your target heart rate to figure out how hard to exercise.
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:
With the right exercise and eating plan, you can help prevent strokes and other cardiovascular disease.
Contact me for more information about making a personal fitness and diet plan, if you need help.