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How do you exercise safely after having a stroke?

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Quick Answer

People who have had strokes need to introduce an exercise regimen slowly to do physical activity safely, the American Stroke Association explains. The association suggests monitoring heart rate, doing short exercises, and speaking with a health care professional about physical limitations.

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How do you exercise safely after having a stroke?
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Full Answer

After a stroke, a patient needs to monitor all physical activity based on intensity, duration and frequency, the American Stroke Association adds. Some stroke survivors are able to perform moderate-intensity exercise, but this depends on their overall health. Moderate-intensity exercise is defined as being able to talk while exercising, but being unable to sing. Most people who survive strokes begin doing 10 minutes of physical activity every day. Health care professionals add five minutes per week to this routine if the patient's health responds well to exercise. Muscle atrophy is a common result of strokes, so any exercise routine needs to begin slowly to get muscles used to the activity.

Immediately after an acute stroke, the American Heart Association suggests many patients respond well to low-level self-care activities. These activities include sitting, standing and walking short distances. These activities increase the heart rate no more than 20 beats per minute. After a patient leaves the hospital, aerobic exercises such as resistance training are added to the exercise routine. The heart rate for these activities sits at no more than 80 percent of the patient's maximum effort. Stretching programs at rehabilitation centers help stroke patients recover, and are usually recommended at a frequency of three times per week.

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