About 20% of strokes can be prevented by exercising on a regular basis. Since stroke prevention is a lifelong process, the importance and positive impact of regular exercise regimen have been seen for prevention of stroke. If an individual is inactive, he will have a 20 percent higher risk of having a stroke or mini-stroke compared to people who exercise enough or at least four times a week. Exercise also has one of the most significant effects on Neuroplasticity as it can stimulate the connections in the Central Nervous System (CNS) and protect an individual from a stroke.
Elderly folks, people of a certain ethnic group (such as African-Americans) and people with family history of stroke are at high risk of getting a stroke and hence are strictly advised to exercise for its prevention. Since women are at a higher risk for stroke, exercise plan should be differentiated for both the genders. Recent research shows that men appear to reap greater cardiovascular protection from more vigorous exercise while moderate exercises (such as brisk walking) reduce stroke risk in women by 20 percent.
How does exercise help in stroke prevention?
A regular fitness regime along with balanced diet is a key to stroke prevention. Exercise helps an individual regulate blood pressure, diabetes level and heart rate. It also helps with coordination, strength building, balance and overall mental health. This helps avoid secondary stroke symptoms like cardiac issues. Exercising on a regular basis also decreases inflammation which helps maintain healthy blood flow and avoid a stroke. However, any exercise plan should also be balanced with proper stretching, stress reduction, good sleep and an optimal nutrition plan.
Many exercise studies show that combining goal-based exercises with aerobic training has provided some evidence of improved Neuroplasticity (by empowering basal ganglia and its cortical connections). These exercises, with the right number of repetition, intensity, and challenge, lead to enhancement in motor performance of individuals through experience-dependent Neuroplasticity. These exercise-led benefits get translated into increased protection from stroke.
Commonly Prescribed Exercises
In order to ensure that an individual is able to perform higher intensity workouts, stretching exercises reduce joint rigidity by increasing flexibility. Commonly prescribed stretching exercises before starting an exercise regime include Passive Finger Stretch and Shoulder Internal Rotation Stretch.
Aerobic or cardio exercises help an individual improve his motor skills and boost energy levels. Recommended aerobic exercises for preventing a stroke include stationary biking, water sports (like swimming and water aerobics) and chair aerobics. Strength training exercises help enhance muscle strength. Resisted Shoulder Abduction, Pincer Grip Strengthening, Finger Flexor and Intrinsic Muscles Strengthening are commonly prescribed in this regard.