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Physiotherapy, Physical Exercise and Stroke: What you need to know

APA Neurological Physiotherapist Natalie Fini answers your questions about how physiotherapy can help you to maintain physical activity throughout your rehabilitation. If you have any comments or questions about the information supplied here, or about neurological physiotherapy and stroke in general, please do not hesitate to contact us.


1. Why is physical activity important, especially for stroke survivors?


Keeping physically active—throughout all walks of life—is vitally important for everyone. Physical activity is known to be beneficial in helping to prevent a range of chronic health conditions including stroke, heart disease, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis and various cancers.


Physical activity also helps to lower your blood pressure and cholesterol, both of which are risk factors for a number of diseases.


On a lighter note, being physically active also makes you feel good! In addition to a wide range of benefits, physical activity can help to improve your mood and decrease your fatigue.


2. How much physical activity should people be doing?


Australian recommendations state that we should be doing up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. This equates to around 30 minutes of exercise that makes you “puff” a little, but still be able to talk easily – for example brisk walking – at least five times per week. Unfortunately, most Australians don’t meet these guidelines.


The guidelines have now been expanded further to include recommendations about breaking up sitting time. They now recommend minimising the amount of time we spend in prolonged sitting and to break up periods of sitting as often as possible – for example stand up and walk around for five minutes every 30-60 minutes.


The American Heart and Stroke Association have also released exercise and physical activity guidelines specifically for stroke survivors. They recommend that stroke survivors do 20-60 minutes of aerobic activity three to five days per week, and strength, balance, and flexibility exercises two to three days per week.


These targets may be hard to achieve for some people, but don’t despair; even increasing your physical activity by small amounts can have beneficial effects. New and emerging research is beginning to show the benefits of ‘light intensity physical activity’, which includes everyday activities – such as doing chores around the house!


Another simple measure of physical activity is the amount of steps you take every day. We’ve all heard about the magical number ‘10,000’, but experts have recommended that those with a disability should take something more like 6,500-8,500 steps per day. This is another measure that can be used and can be measured by wearable activity monitors that are currently quite popular.

Published by Australian Physio Association to read more open the attached link

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