Stroke is a serious medical condition that occurs when blood flow to the brain is disrupted, resulting in brain damage or even death. Physical activity is one of the most effective ways to reduce the risk of stroke. The good news is, even small increases in physical activity can have a significant impact on stroke risk. In fact, every additional 15 minutes of daily exercise has been shown to be associated with a 24% reduction in stroke risk. So, what does this mean for you? It means that even if you’re short on time, a little bit of exercise can go a long way to improving your health.
Here are some tips on how to increase your physical activity to reduce the risk of stroke:
- First things first, start slow. You don’t have to jump straight into a full-blown workout routine. For example, start by taking a 15-minute walk during your lunch break or mow the lawn for 15-minutes. Then, gradually increase the intensity and duration of your workouts as you get more comfortable.
- Another important tip is to find activities you enjoy. Who says exercise has to be boring? If you love dancing, try a Zumba class. If swimming is your thing, get to the local pool. The more you enjoy your workouts, the more likely you are to stick with them.
- Setting realistic goals is also key. Don’t expect to run a marathon after just a week of exercise. Start with a goal of working out for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, and build from there. And be sure to track your progress, whether it’s with a fitness app or writing notes in your phone.
- Make physical activity a habit by incorporating it into your daily routine. Take the stairs instead of the lift, walk or ride to work, and take breaks to stretch and move around during the day. And don’t forget to have fun with it! Joining an exercise group or sports team can make exercise feel less like a chore and more like a social activity.
- Be sure to consult your healthcare professional before starting any exercise program, especially if you have any medical conditions or injuries. Your healthcare professional can recommend safe exercises that will work for your body.
Of course, it’s important to remember that exercise is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to preventing stroke. Eating a healthy diet, quitting smoking, and managing conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes, are all important factors as well.
Physical activity is a key factor in reducing the risk of stroke. By starting slowly, finding activities you enjoy, setting realistic goals, making it a habit and being active throughout the day, you can increase your physical activity and reduce your risk of stroke. Remember, it’s never too late to start, and small changes can make a big difference.
If you are unsure what physical activity is best for you and would like to track your progress, or have lost motivation, book an appointment with your physiotherapist to help you be more active today!
- Hooker, S.P., K.M. Diaz, S.N. Blair, et al., Association of accelerometer-measured sedentary time and physical activity with risk of stroke among US adults. JAMA Network Open, 2022. 5(6): p. e2215385-e2215385.