There’s no doubt that regular exercise and physical activity do wonders for your physical health. Exercise helps with weight control and keeps certain health conditions at bay. There are also many benefits of exercise beyond the gym, such as improving your mood, boosting energy and better sleep.
But what you may not know is that exercise is important for even more reasons when you’re living with a neurologic condition or recovering from a neurologic event, like a stroke. Marie Simeo, PT, MS, a certified neurotherapist and clinical coordinator for OhioHealth Neurological Rehabilitation says finding ways to stay active is critical to your recovery and managing long-term symptoms.
Exercise to regain – then maintain – stamina and endurance
“The importance of stamina and endurance often gets overlooked,” says Simeo. “But if you compare a 64-year-old that just had a stroke with a 64-year-old who has not, it takes the stroke survivor three times the amount of energy to simply walk.”
Simeo says neurologic patients can use exercise to regain and maintain the strength, stamina and endurance you need for daily routines. In time, you’ll be able to return to dressing yourself and doing household chores, as well as the activities enjoy most, like attending your grandkids’ sports games.
Exercise to increase bone density
Low bone density is common in neurologic patients. Stroke can cause loss of bone density in one side of the body. In multiple sclerosis patients, low bone density can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. And if you have Parkinson’s disease, you may experience low bone density in your hips and spine, which increase fall and osteoporosis risks.
The correlation between exercise and bone density isn’t commonly known, but Simeo says it’s a benefit that should be talked about more. Improving your bone density can help prevent falls, fractures and osteoporosis. She recommends bodyweight exercises, such as walking, hiking, squats and planks, and resistance exercises, such as lifting weights.
Exercise to decrease feelings of isolation
Exercise can also help neurologic patients adapt to life after a diagnosis or event. Group exercise is an especially great option for neurologic patients, because you are surrounded by others who can influence your mood. Research says that social functions can decrease feelings of isolation. OhioHealth’s neuroscience wellness programs, such as Fore Hope adaptive golf, are great examples of this.
Another suggestion is to find a friend to exercise with! This can help encourage you to be consistent and frequent in your movement. It could be as simple as walking 15 minutes together a day.
Exercise because it’s good for you!
At the end of the day, exercise is beneficial for everyone and for an increasing number of reasons. Simeo says, no matter what you do, get moving!