THE ROLE OF EXERCISE AND DIET IN STROKE PREVENTION AND MANAGEMENT

As mentioned in our previous articles, two of the greatest lifestyle factors we can control in relation to stroke risk are exercise and nutrition. By focusing on these two lifestyle factors we not only reduce our chance of suffering from a stroke, but also many other chronic health conditions!


What are some of the stroke risk factors:

  • Poor cardiovascular health,

  • High blood pressure,

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

REGULAR EXERCISE

Fortunately regular exercise and a healthy diet can improve all of these health issues and thereby reduce our risk of stroke. A great place to start is aiming for at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise most, if not all, days of the week. For more guidance in exercise prescription refer to our previous newsletter discussing the 3 main types of exercise you should include in your daily life - resistance, aerobic and mobility exercises.


OUR TOP TIP - If you are feeling overwhelmed, unmotivated or intimidated by adding exercise to your daily life we suggest you start small by adding one or more of the following activities to your routine:

  • Walk – Substitute a car journey for a walk or go for a bushwalk with a friend or pet. Pick up your pace to a faster rate than usual.

  • Sign up for a weekly class – dancing, aerobics, crossfit.

  • Get moving outdoors – Whether it's a bike ride, a swim or working up a sweat in the garden, enjoy spending more active time outdoors.

Alternatively contact one of our experienced exercise physiologists for guidance, support and motivation on changing your exercise habits.



HEALTHY DIET

Once again, a healthy diet can reduce many stroke risk factors, including weight, cardiovascular health, diabetes, cholesterol and kidney disease. We suggest you enjoy a balanced diet by following the Australian Dietary Guidelines, which recommend you eat:

  • Plenty of vegetables. Choose different types and colours

  • Legumes (peas, lentils and beans)

  • Fruit

  • Grain or cereal foods. Choose wholegrain and high-fibre types of bread, cereal, rice, pasta, noodles, polenta, couscous, oats, quinoa and barley.

  • Lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts ad seeds, peas, lentils and beans.

  • Milk, yoghurt, cheese and their alternatives, mostly reduced fat.

You should also:

  • Drink plenty of water.

  • Limit intake of foods high in saturated fats.

  • Limit foods with added salt and sugar.

  • Limit salt to less than 4 grams each day (equivalent to 1600 mg of sodium). The maximum daily upper limit is 6 grams of salt (2300 mg of sodium), which is about a teaspoon.

  • Prevent weight gain by eating according to your energy needs.


General diet advice may not be suitable for everyone. Our dietitian, Kristie Pieters, is a great source of individual advice, who can work with you to find what is right for you. If you are having difficulties keeping your weight within recommended levels, ask a doctor or dietitian for help.



OUR TOP TIP - Plan your weekly menu in advance and eat from the five food groups every day.

  • Balance your diet – Mix it up with vegetables, fruit and grain, lean meats, poultry and fish, reduced fat milk and yoghurt.

  • Substitute your snacks – Swap sweets for nuts or fresh fruit.

  • Go fresh – Buy from markets or shop around the outside aisles of the supermarket. Drop the salt by checking the sodium content on packaged foods.

  • Steer clear of sugary drinks – Drink plenty of water.

By improving our activity levels and nutritional intake to that of the general recommendations we can significantly reduce our risk of suffering from a stroke and indeed many other chronic health conditions. Contact us if you need further information or would like to make an appointment with our allied health professionals.