Caregiver and Stroke Survivor Exercise
Exercise promotes well-being and can improve the quality of life of stroke survivors by strengthening muscles and improving mobility.
Each stroke survivor will have an individualized exercise routine depending on his or her disability. You can partner with your stroke survivor for some daily exercise, with each of you doing your own routine. Canada’s Physical Activity Guide recommends that adults get 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day. You can add it up in periods of at least 10 minutes at a time. Consult a physical therapist or a physician for individualized exercise recommendations. Play some music and make it a fun break for you and your stroke survivor, everyday.
Exercise suggestions for caregivers:
March on the spot for three to five minutes, and then do the following exercises, 10-15 times each. Start with a few repetitions and build up gradually.
- Circle your arms slowly to stretch the upper body.
- Stand at a table and do small knee bends. Sit down and extend your knees. Then, pump your ankles up and down to stretch leg muscles.
- Sit down, then stand up.
- From a standing position, go up on your toes, then down.
- Hold on to a table and do side leg raises.
- Balance on one leg (make sure you can grab onto something if needed).
- Tap step. Move your right foot forward, to the side, behind you, and back to the starting position. Do the same with the left foot.
- Walk: in the room, the hallway or anywhere else.
- Take a mental break
Taking regular relaxation breaks can help both caregivers and stroke survivors better cope with the challenges associated with stroke recovery. Furthermore, relaxation can decrease pain and spasticity in stroke survivors.
One of the most basic relaxation techniques is deep breathing. Our bodies react to stress with rapid, shallow breathing. Breathing slowly and deeply will help to ‘turn off’ the stress reaction and ‘turn on’ the relaxation response.
Do the following together with your loved one:
1. Begin by breathing normally, but pay attention to each breath, taking a mental note of how the air comes in and out of your body.
2. After several breaths, begin to breathe more deeply, with longer inhalations and longer exhalations.
3. Breathe deeply and slowly, focusing all of your attention on each breath. As you exhale, imagine the tension draining from your body and mind. Notice the feeling of calm and relaxation that comes with exhalation. Continue deep breathing for a few minutes.
Heart and Stroke Canada