Nutrition and Fitness for Stroke Patients: How Diet and Exercise Support a Stroke Patient’s Recovery

December 3, 2020

  |  
Ninkatec

Prioritising exercise and a balanced diet can be very helpful to improve health for stroke patients. Find out how fitness influences recovery, wellness, and risk of recurrence for individuals who have suffered from a stroke.

Singapore receives approximately 26 stroke cases every day. This debilitating disease is one of the leading causes for physical and cognitive disabilities; optimal diet, nutrition are and medical support is essential for proper rehabilitation.

In this guide, we cover how stroke patients can decrease their risk of experiencing greater medical complications by incorporating a balanced diet and regular exercise into their daily routines. Keep reading to learn more about the benefits of improving fitness and nutrition for recovering stroke patients.

The Impact a Stroke Has on the Body

A stroke is a cardiovascular disease that occurs when the brain fails to receive enough oxygen. Generally, this is due to a clot or rupture in any of the blood vessels carrying oxygen to the brain which hinders proper blood flow and quickly damages brain cells.

Although there are several types of strokes, they will all typically result in life-altering conditions that require rehabilitation and medication. Depending on the area of the brain that suffered from a lack of oxygen, a stroke can affect any of the following:

  • Personality
  • Motor skills
  • Sense perception
  • Complex thinking processes
  • Memory
  • Vision
  • Language 
  • Emotion regulation

How Lifestyle Habits Influence One’s Health

According to the American Heart Association, strokes are commonly correlated to inactive lifestyles and poor nutrition. To reduce a recurrent stroke from taking place, patients must begin engaging in healthier lifestyle habits as they recover. This means avoiding smoking, heavy drinking, and overeating. Additionally, stressful activities and interactions should be minimised.

The Benefits of Exercise

Physical exercise strengthens muscles, improves endurance, and boosts immunity – all of which are helpful for both preventing and recovering from a stroke. According to research, there is a correlation between patients who incorporate exercise to their post-stroke routines and improvements in balance, mobility, and cognitive function.

Since a stroke is often accompanied with physical disabilities and/or mental impairments, physical activity through rehabilitation or exercise reconditions the body to perform daily tasks without as much strain. 

Recommended Exercises for Stroke Patients

Strokes affect different parts of the brain, which results in different physical symptoms in each individual survivor. Some patients experience balance issues, others their ability to move. Patients recovering from a stroke should take things slowly by performing light to moderate physical exercises under the supervision of their physiotherapist or doctor. Examples of exercises that can be helpful for stroke patients are:

  • Reach & Grasp – This exercise can be done seated with one hand placed on a table in front of the patient. The patient can slowly extend their arm and fingertips as if they were reaching for an object. Once they’ve performed this motion, they should move their hand back towards their body at the same pace. 
  • Trunk Rotation – to perform this light core exercise, patients can remain seated with one hand on their lap and the other holding their wrist. They will then move the hand on their lap to the opposite leg and carefully twist their body to the side.
  • Walking – Patients with greater mobility can go for short walks or use a treadmill for a few minutes every day to improve blood circulation and cardiovascular health.
  • Yoga – With the support of a professional instructor or therapist, yoga can be done to improve balance and breathing. By stretching one’s muscles regularly, the body becomes less stiff which gives patients better control over their movement.
  • Strength training – Using light weights or water bottles to perform sets of various exercises increases muscle strength, particularly in the upper body. While more research is being developed on its long-term effectiveness in treating disabilities, some studies suggest that it improves upper-limb function.

Here are some further exercise tips to remember on your road to recovery:

  • Safety – When exercising according to your rehabilitation program, have a caregiver nearby to watch for your safety. The caregiver can also help you remember the exercise sequence.
  • Reading assistance – Some stroke survivors lose the ability to read. Assistance from a family member or friend can help guide the survivor through their rehabilitation plan. 
  • Schedule – Plan your rehabilitation exercises during the day when you feel awake and alert. Invite a different family or friend over to motivate and assist you in your exercises. 

What Stroke Patients Should Eat

The second key to a quick recovery is nutrition. After a stroke, up to 34% of survivors don’t receive adequate vitamins and minerals, and commonly suffer from malnutrition. During recovery, it’s important to not only eat the right types of food but also to maintain a healthy weight by meeting one’s recommended daily calorie count. To do this, patients with a poor appetite can focus on eating more high-calorie dense foods while those with an increased appetite may eat low-calorie dense foods in higher quantities instead. Depending on what the patient is used to eating, healthy choices of foods which are low in fat and salt are helpful. Foods high in protein such as lean meat, fish and eggs are also generally helpful. 

Why It’s So Important to Maintain One’s Health after a Stroke

Making necessary lifestyle changes as early as possible is the best course of action for recurrent stroke prevention. While most individuals who suffer from a stroke survive, they’re also more likely to experience a second stroke within the next few years. During recovery, a stroke patient’s health is already compromised which makes it crucial to improve their fitness and nutrition to avoid any medical complications that could worsen their condition. 

How Ninkatec Assists Stroke Patients

Ninkatec provides high-quality home care services for anyone who requires medical support or assistance. as one of Singapore’s leading healthcare providers, Ninkatec guarantees that every patient’s individualised needs are met every step of the way. 

With our patient-centred approach, we focus on prioritising the comfort and medical convenience of clients. When an appointment is scheduled, the current health condition of the stroke patient is assessed by our medical staff who will recommend one of the following care plans:

  • Virtual Care – provides remote access to virtually check in on patients at any time of the day.
  • Right At Home – best for patients with relatively stable conditions and need little assistance.
  • Close Connect – for stroke patients who require daily medical assistance and supervision, especially post-surgery.

Prioritise Health and Wellness with Ninkatec

Recovering from a stroke takes a heavy toll on an individual’s body. While the disease presents plenty of physical and mental challenges, receiving optimal medical support and assistance may relieve some of the burden for stroke patients. You can refer to our article on care and treatment options for recovering stroke patients for additional guidance. If you have any other concerns or questions, Ninkatec’s team of health care professionals and medical experts are just a phone call away to be your partner on the road to recovery.

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