Exercising after stroke

Hi, I had a stroke last Friday, so 9 days ago. I am (was) a keen walker and was due to go on a week's walking holiday with a friend next Friday, exactly 2 weeks after my stroke. Before my stroke, I was fit and active, doing HITT training and going to the gym to do weights, as well as daily dog walking. Am I mad to be thinking I can still do this walking holiday - around 10 miles a day?? I'm just not sure, everyone says rest, and I admit, I do feel very tired a lot of the time. Don't want to hinder my recovery but really want to go. I'd really appreciate advice from anyone that's been there.  Thanks,  Jo

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Everyone's stroke is slightly different, if you feel capable of getting out there and walking so soon, it might be doable, but the brain does need rest to repair, and if it doesn't have that opportunity, you might be left with residual symptoms that take longer to heal or become a permanent disability. Fatigue is also a symptom that can be made worse if a person over does it, but only you can assess your ability at this stage. Neuroplasticity will be hard at work forming new pathways in your brain for at least six months, it does need food and sleep to do this properly. 

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Jo, as Rups has said, every stroke is different. Some of us get badpost stroke fatigue, others do not. After a stroke, the brain requires rest and time to rewire. I would advise testing your walking capacity, before you set out on a long walking holiday. However, do not test yourself to the point of exhaustion. Also consider whether your friend will feel frustrated if you do not walk at the same pace.

Dear Jo

sorry to hear of a stroke biting you.

if you had a transient stroke then just maybe you could manage some gentle and relaxed walking.  Maybe is the operative word.

if you had a full stroke then it is too soon to undertake a walking holiday. 
 

I have no medical qualification. So please take note of those who are medically qualified.

Colin

Morning, sorry to hear about your stroke.

as the others say really, every stroke is different but I’d probably say by this point you may have a better idea of your body could intake suck a holiday, i to was extremely healthy, fit and followed a fairly strict diet plan since my teens so can understand as many on the site do to the need to carry on as normal, 

but listen to your body if it’s tired ect as it definitely pit me on a backwards recovery tonthe point of ending up back on hospital a second time. Hope all the advice helps

Hard to say

I was also a keen walker but the stroke put a stop to it. Had mine just over 5 years ago shortly after completing the Cleveland way, which I had planned as the first of many long distance trails I wanted to do. I now can walk about 200 metres, having severe left sided weakness. Any exercise is good. I'd be wary of taking any weight in a pack though. If you can dip your toe in it might work, can you get anyone to provide relief cover or pick you up if it proves too difficult?  As all strokes are different it is impossible to say for sure you are the expert you will know what you can manage. I'm afraid I can only envy your ability to walk well enough to contemplate a trip. I don't know if I will ever be able to do it again, but I haven't given up hope of getting out there again even though some days it feels very remote.

 Post us a pic if you do get out there

 Good luck. Don't push too hard.

 Bw

Tony 

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Thanks Tony, I must confess I hadn't thought about the pack! Struggle with that on a normal day. And because we're not doing a marked trail, there won't be any pack taxis available. We did Offa's Dyke a couple of yrs ago,then the Dales Way last summer. This year was meant to be South Coast path but with Covid, we decided it'd be too busy so we were going to walk 'off piste' around Dorset. Sorry to hear about your left sided weakness - I've been very lucky by all accounts. Thanks for your advice. Jo

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Jo,

I would echo what everyone else has said. I was fit and healthy when I had my stroke 2 1/2 years ago. I used to run twice a week, do spin and have a personal trainer once a week.

I found it best to set myself goals with some small steps to get there. My physio helped me 'run' again. It isn't like it was before, but it is running. I did find that walking along the coastal path in Cornwall just under a year after the stroke quite hard for too long a distance. Going uphill as fine, but downhill difficult. 

Listen to your body and do what you can. I know it is hard, but try not to push yourself to the point of fatigue.

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Pack was our biggest mistake on Cleveland, had full camping gear, I couldn't get a pack on at all now. My main focus is simply to get to be able to enjoy walking again it is very laboured as left leg doesn't function properly. I have to use a cane, couldn't walk at all  right after the stroke was in a hospital ward for 10 weeks!  Anyway I have done long haul before this is just a whole new level. It was a real cause of grief for me, so I imagine getting back out there will help you mentally  in all kinds of ways.  One day I will,  it still is my dream.

 Bw

Tony 

Thanks Colin, it was an acute ischemic stroke so not transient, but I've been very lucky and haven't lost any movement on either side. Walked 5 miles yesterday (as two separate walks) without too much trouble.  

Thanks everyone for your advice. I think I'll do what John Jeff suggested and see how I get on with a 'test walk' this week before making a decision. By the sound of things, I have been very fortunate not to have lost any movement on either side of my body, so don't want to push my luck. Also hadn't considered the impact on my walking partner as we normally walk at a good pace and she might get v bored!  Jo

Dear Joe

you are one in a million. Great. No two strokes are the same, and you have landed in the extreme end of little harm done. 
I have to maintain my view that you should not go on a walking holiday within a month of a stroke. But who am I to know. 
I think it's fabulous that you have not suffered much damage, if any. I was 90% paralysed but made it home after just five days. I think I am very, very fortunate, but nothing compared to you.


Wonderful. Excellent. Enjoy your good health.

Colin


 

I had an Ischemic stroke 4 years ago and a TIA last October. Like many of us, I was a keen gym goer, fit and healthy, non smoking, non drinking person.  I was told no gym for a month after the first stroke and when I did go back it had to be slowly slowly catchey monkey.  In all honesty, I wasn't fit for the gym in a month.  Fatigue hits out of nowhere and the last thing you want to do is be annoyed because you couldn't do the walks like you used to and, as Colin mentioned, keeping up with your friend is too much of a responsibility after such a short time.  The brain needs to rest after a stroke and it can't do this if you are pushing your body to the limits every day.  

Only you know your body and if you already feel tired a lot of the time, you will be exhausted walking everyday on holiday.  Your brain has a nasty habit (but necessary) of shutting your body down if you don't rest when it's telling you to. In other words, one day walking will probably bring 2/3 days of sheer exhaustion which will set you back.  

Build up slowly and you will get there. I am back at the gym now and lift weights twice a week. I also do pilates once a week. However, this has taken 4 yrs to get to this stage.  I wouldn't dare do a HITT class because I would be afraid that my brain would not be able to cope with such a rapid increase in blood pressure and cause another stroke.  Daily walking the dog, a little bit of gentle resistance exercise and rest in between will soon build up your stamina and strength again.  I'm sure your friend will understand if you give it a miss this year and concentrate on your recovery ready for next year's holiday.

Each person here seems to have motivation to exercise. My husband does not want to do anything unless forced by having to go to a physio. That is now paid for and is not achieving him wanting to exercise at home. After 3 years since he came back from hospital he still just sits and watches TV. His right leg doesn’t want to work. He is some Right side neglect, and both eyes hemianopeia on the right. His Cerebral palsy is worse on his left side and yet he just does not want to go out, nor try to stand with my support except for transfers from the molift (he can PULL himself onto it) to the wheely commode. I want him to try to stand with a Zimmer from his armchair, which does lift him up; he can’t seem to push with his legs to stand that way. Only his arms can pull him up. if he could stand, and side step he could get himself onto a wheelchair and be more mobile; he just doesn’t seem to want to do it. Any ideas on motivation? He’s also scared of travelling in a car (no matter who is driving- not him of course), or on his old scooter.
I am frustrated even if he isn’t! -Anne

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Hi Anne @AnneC, welcome to the forum.

Unfortunately I don’t have any good ideas to share with you other than talking to him to try to establish his feelings about his rehabilitation, or lack of it, as you cannot motivate someone who is not open to be motivated. It may be that your husband has lost hope or is a little depressed, has he spoken to his GP or a counsellor as there may be an avenue medically he can go down.

He may not want to talk to you, as it can be difficult it unburden your deepest fears to someone you care about as it can upset them, as such he may be able to speak openly to someone unconnected to him, eg a counsellor.

Stay strong, stay positive. Wishing you both all the very best.

Hello Anne, I wonder if your husband has a number of issues which are contributing to his low interest? I have no feeling on my right side and no proprioception and some small vision loss in the right eye. When I travelled in a car at first it was a very strange sensation as I thought the driver was using my right hand to change gear! Very disconcerting and not pleasant, and overall I used to feel sick. I’m a little better now(5years+) but my giddy head still sometimes makes me want to sit absolutely still, or lie down eyes closed. Norma used to write on here about her giddy head problems and Rups has also talked about the problems he faces. If there are other bits and pieces of pain and discomfort eg. neck ache, stiffness, nerve pain, all these things make exercise and motivation very difficult. Add in a low mood to the equation then you’ve got a stroke sufferer! I will repeat what I have said on here in the past , take it from me, the only person who can improve the situation and make progress is your husband. It’s ok to withdraw, feel fed up, angry, hopeless for a while BUT he must realise that doing the same things will not change the situation or the way he feels about his situation. It’s good that he’s going to physio but he needs to engage a bit more and may need help to work on his mood to help this. If there are other physical issues which can be identified and helped a little bit., some progress is positive. Never easy for everyone involved but he should try and not give up. We don’t have motivation all the time, trust me! Mahoney has also replied to you with very thoughtful words and some good suggestions.

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Thanks for taking enough interest to write here to me. He doesn’t reckon he is in a low mood. He’s just ‘happy’ not to take any responsibility for anything. He just likes eating (too much weight gain and he doesn’t like veg or salads!) and watching TV and listening to audible books. He can’t read now except for a couple of words at a time and then it’s often guessing. No interest really in colouring in as he did once, nor going out, nothing. Now his one friend that visited isn’t coming as he’s taking ‘cover’ from covid possibilities; he is in his mid 80s. It takes a lot of getting used to Colin trying to communicate as sometimes he seems fluent and okay but after half an hour, he’s had it. So no one else comes to try apart from the carers and they don’t ‘talk to him’ about anything much. We used to have a jolly type of lady but had to swap agencies and the present one has a lady who is up beat but only comes 2 days of the week.
Anyway, at least I’ve off loaded to some extent today. Thanks for listening.

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Thanks for this. I think he can’t express himself -aphasic issues. He certainly does not want to have a counsellor visit and thinks GPs are a waste of time! All they do are balance his bowels… and check his diabetes! There should be a review in March of his meds but with the NHS as it is, we’re not urgent. We will keep going! Thanks
Anne