Your exercise program

Why exercise is important

Getting regular exercise will help:

  • prevent another stroke, if you had one
  • maintain a healthy weight
  • reduce the risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, certain cancers and joint conditions
  • reduce levels of anxiety and stress
  • improve your self-esteem and confidence
  • improve concentration and memory
  • maintain good blood pressure and cholesterol levels
  • give you an overall feeling of well-being
  • build endurance and increase your metabolism
  • you relax and sleep better
  • provide healthy blood flow to your brain
  • improve your mood
  • improve your thinking and memory
  • improve your walking ability
  • treat your pain

Your goals

  • Your general goal is 30 minutes of exercise at least 3 to 5 days each week. Aerobic exercise uses large muscle groups and raises your heart rate (like biking, walking and swimming).
  • During aerobic exercise you should be able to talk (singing would be hard).
    • Your rate of perceived exertion (how hard you are working) should be between light and somewhat hard (at left).

How you can exercise

  • Follow your exercise prescription from your therapist or doctor:
    • aerobic exercise
    • strength training
    • flexibility and balance
  • If you do not have an exercise prescription or you are having a hard time starting one, ask your doctor for a referral to physical therapy. 
  • Do what you can based on your abilities.
  • Walk around your house.
  • Walk around your neighborhood.
  • Do something you enjoy. Walk with a friend or with a walking group.
  • Join a fitness center (if you are able).
  • Start small.
    • Exercise for five minutes five times a day.
    • Add one to three minutes each day as you are able.

Signs you are doing too much

As you exercise you should be aware of your body's response. Signs you are doing too much include:

  • feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • nausea (upset stomach) and vomiting (throwing up)
  • cold sweat
  • being short of breath (unable to have a conversation)
  • exhaustion or unusual fatigue (very tired)
  • feeling as if your heart is suddenly racing or pounding
  • any chest pain or pressure in your teeth, arm, jaw, ear, neck or between your shoulder blades

Call your doctor if the symptoms do not go away after resting.Call 911 if you cannot reach your doctor. Do not drive yourself to a clinic or Emergency Department.

Source: Allina Health Patient EducationUnderstanding Stroke, fifth edition, neuro-ahc-90662
Reviewed By: Allina Health Patient Education experts
First Published: 02/01/2006
Last Reviewed: 05/01/2018

Borg Perception scale

The scale with correct instructions can be obtained from Borg Perception.