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Exercise to prevent a stroke

What is a stroke?

A stroke is when the blood supply to the brain is disrupted or blocked, causing damage to the brain through the subsequent absence of oxygen.

There are two types of stroke which result in the blood flow to the brain being stopped;

  • An ischaemic (is-key-mick) stroke is the most common type and occurs when an artery to the brain becomes blocked. Blockages can be caused by a blood clot (embolic stroke) or the gradual build-up of plaque narrowing the artery (thrombotic stroke).
  • A Haemorrhagic (hemm-orr-ragic) stroke is when the vessel ruptures, causing a bleed in the brain. Haemorrhagic strokes can occur from uncontrolled high blood pressure resulting in rupturing small blood vessels in the brain. This is known as an intracerebral haemorrhage. Haemorrhagic strokes can also be caused by subarachnoid strokes, which can occur from abnormalities in the blood vessel, aneurysms, anticoagulant medications (blood thinners), and illegal drugs such as cocaine.
What are the risk factors and who is at risk? 

There are a number of risk factors that can act as early warnings for the potential for a stroke to occur. Risk factors include;

  • High blood pressure (hypertension)
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Inactive lifestyle
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Obesity
  • Alcohol consumption

A little-known fact is that women are more at risk from strokes than men. Importantly, the vast majority of risk factors for strokes are modifiable. This means lifestyle changes can help to prevent strokes.

Signs and symptoms of a stroke and how to help

A vital acronym to remember when considering the signs of a stroke is FAST

  • Face- Has their face drooped, or is their face looking ok?
  • Arms- Can they lift their arms above their head, or can they lift their arms at all?
  • Speech- Can they speak properly, or are they having trouble speaking?
  • Time- Time is essential in this situation. Call 000 immediately!

How does a stroke impact daily life? 

The impact of a stroke on an individual depends on where in the brain the damage has occurred, and the amount of damage caused to the brain tissue. Common stroke side effects include loss of motor and/or sensory functions. This can lead to a reduction in physical abilities that may be temporary or permanent depending on the severity of the event. This may result in a loss of independence. Additionally, strokes can cause cognitive impairment, changes in the ability to regulate emotions, and mental health problems.

How can exercise help prevent a stroke? 

The Stroke Foundation states that more than 80% of strokes that occur are preventable. This is because there are many modifiable risk factors for stroke.

One of the most crucial is the absence of physical activity. There are multiple benefits to regular exercise that can decrease the risk of stroke. Benefits of exercise for stroke prevention include:

  • Reductions in blood pressure,
  • Reductions in LDL cholesterol
  • Reductions of body fat percentage
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Reducing circulating blood glucose.

Exercise plays a vital role in improving the quality of blood vessels and how blood flows through blood vessels.

Aerobic, resistance, and balance training are recommended types of exercise that can increase fitness and reduce the likelihood of strokes. Additionally, regular exercise can simultaneously reduce the risk of other chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer.

How can exercise help post-stroke?

Exercise is also highly regarded for the benefits it brings throughout all stages of post-stroke rehab. For example, strength training and activities such as yoga and tai chi can help to improve muscle weakness and balance for stroke survivors. The benefits of increased strength and balance combined can assist in gaining back independence by improving the ability to perform daily activities.

Although more investigation is required, research currently suggests that aerobic exercise can potentially enhance the brain’s ability to make new neural connections. Forming new neural connections in the brain assists in adapting to learning new skills and also assists in the recovery of traumatic brain injury post-stroke.

Every stroke is different and will affect each person differently. Working with an accredited exercise physiologist who specialises in neurological conditions allows for personalised treatment to be provided to the individual with consideration for their goals and needs.

 

REFERENCES
  • Ada, L., Dorsch, S., & Canning, C. G. (2006). Strengthening interventions increase strength and improve activity after stroke: a systematic review. Australian Journal of Physiotherapy, 52(4), 241-248.
  • Gallanagh, S., Quinn, T. J., Alexander, J., & Walters, M. R. (2011). Physical activity in the prevention and treatment of stroke. International Scholarly Research Notices, 2011.
  • Limaye, N. S., Carvalho, L. B., & Kramer, S. (2021). The Effects of Aerobic Exercise on Serum Biomarkers of Neuroplasticity and Brain Repair in Stroke: A Systematic Review. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation.
  • Mang, C. S., Campbell, K. L., Ross, C. J., & Boyd, L. A. (2013). Promoting neuroplasticity for motor rehabilitation after stroke: considering the effects of aerobic exercise and genetic variation on brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Physical therapy, 93(12), 1707-1716.
  • Riebe, D., Ehrman, J. K., Liguori, G., & Magal, M. (2018). ACSM’s guidelines for exercise testing and prescription (Tenth edition. ed.). Philadelphia: Wolters Kluwer.
  • Son, S. M., Park, M. K., & Lee, N. K. (2014). Influence of resistance exercise training to strengthen muscles across multiple joints of the lower limbs on dynamic balance functions of stroke patients. Journal of physical therapy science, 26(8), 1267-1269.
  • Stroke Foundation. (2022a). Top 10 facts about stroke. Retrieved from https://strokefoundation.org.au/en/About-Stroke/Learn/facts-and-figures
  • Stroke Foundation. (2022b). What is a stroke. Retrieved from https://strokefoundation.org.au/About-Stroke/Learn/Types-of-stroke
  • Taylor-Piliae, R. E., Hoke, T. M., Hepworth, J. T., Latt, L. D., Najafi, B., & Coull, B. M. (2014). Effect of Tai Chi on physical function, fall rates and quality of life among older stroke survivors. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, 95(5), 816-824.

Meet the team

Be Physiology

At Be Physiology we focus on exercise and movement for the management and improvement of neurological and chronic conditions.

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Trent Brock | Mobile Exercise Physiologist

Trent Brock

mobile exercise physiologist
I have had 3 major passions throughout my life; exercise, competitive sports, and a strong will to help others. Those 3 factors made it an easy decision to pursue a career as an exercise physiologist. By encouraging and facilitating evidence-based exercise rehabilitation, I can help individuals living with various chronic conditions, particularly those living with neurological conditions.
I see exercise physiology as an extremely beneficial practice that enables clients to experience an improved quality of life. Personally, being able to provide insight into exercise and other tools that can equip clients with helpful skills and wellbeing improvements is extremely fulfilling. Being able to improve not only an individual, but their support network’s day-to-day life fills me with great joy and motivates me to continue to be better so that I can do better. I understand that everyone has a different view of exercise and there is no one-size fits all approach, so I operate with an open and adaptive mind, supported by evidence-based practices. If you or anyone that you know is looking to improve their quality of life and begin a journey to improved living, or just have any general questions, get in touch and let's have a chat!
Michelle Marais AEP

Michelle Marais

mobile exercise physiologist
My passion for movement, health, and helping others led me to become an Accredited Exercise Physiologist. Through this role, I facilitate exercise-based rehabilitation for individuals with various chronic conditions, with a primary interest and area of expertise in neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is about equipping clients with valuable skills that make daily tasks easier and empowering them to achieve their goals while enjoying the process.I take great pride in being a part of my clients' rehabilitation journey and exploring new methods with them to find the optimal exercise approach that works best for them.If you have any questions or are interested in starting your journey to a happier, healthier lifestyle, please feel free to reach out to me.
Angus Sullivan AEP

Angus Sullivan AEP

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
As an accredited exercise physiologist, I see my role as an opportunity to facilitate a safe and effective environment for my clients to explore their physical capabilities, identify areas where they would like to improve, and then prescribe meaningful and appropriate activities to achieve these improvements.
I currently work predominantly with individuals living with disability and have a keen interest in acquired brain injuries (ABI), traumatic brain injuries (TBI), cerebral palsy (CP), spinal cord injuries (SCI) and rare neurological conditions.
To me, exercise physiology is not only about achieving narrow objective goals (eg. 1 Rep Max bench press), but improving an individual’s lifestyle and making activities of daily living easier (mobilising, transferring, feeding, and more).
I love what I do and enjoy learning new methods and discussing different opinions about exercise. I am always happy to chat about it so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share!
Our team of mobile exercise physiologists

Walter White

manager of good vibes
Being active has taken on a whole new meaning and I am 100% here for it. I like to fink I'm pretty active, and I keep up de vibes during team meetings - just making sure everyone's hands are always moving (across my butt) because I know dat any exercise is good exercise.
I keep close to everyone, real close, just to keep dem on their toes when dey walk by too.
Fings are always better when I am der so if you need some good vibes, I will be der for you.
Brb just going to have a snooze.
Love and licks,
Wally
Brittney Kenward

Brittney Kenward

co-founder / Operations manager
I’m NOT an exercise physiologist, but I do take my hat off to my team and get to admire the work they do each and every day. Be Physiology means that we’re able to apply our passion, and our experience, to make exercise physiology more accessible to the people who need it the most.
You might hear the team describe me as ‘the person who does everything else’, and that can be translated to ‘marketing and operations'. My background is marketing and business, which I’ve lived and breathed since 2011. I’ve worked in both the agency and corporate spaces, across many industries, with many amazing people and now with Be Physiology, I get to explore the health industry further and continue to meet the most incredible people who are the ones to define motivation.
If you’ve met Harry and Aj, you’d know that they don’t really need marketing - they’re genuine, have ridiculous amounts of charisma, knowledgeable, and extremely passionate about helping people to be a better version of themselves. But, sometimes getting an introduction is the hardest part and that’s where I come in.
If you want to chat, a coffee, a laugh, I’m always here to make one or all of them happen.

So call me and let’s keep sharing the love!
Keegan Betts AEP

Keegan Betts AEP

mobile exercise physiologist
As an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, my work is driven by my passion for movement, health, and empowering others. With my experience working with individuals of all ages who have neurological conditions such as autism, stroke, and cerebral palsy, I focus on delivering activity-based therapy to optimise their independence.
Seeing people empowered and handling daily tasks easier is incredibly rewarding, as well as being able to give others the tools to improve their mental health and prevent secondary health conditions.
I know the importance of creating a welcoming and safe environment particularly when improving our health and I always strive to ensure everybody feels supported by the team around them and receives the highest level of care.
Get in touch today and let's make it happen.
Kristen McCluskey

Kristen McCluskey

Mobile Exercise Physiologist
If you spend as little as 10 minutes a day exercising, it will still make a huge difference to your overall physical and mental health - this is a fact and it is very often underappreciated! The benefits of exercise don’t discriminate and the rumours are true, exercise is medicine.
Spinal cord injuries, neurological conditions and women’s health are areas I find to be very dynamic and that I am particularly passionate about, but all aspects of exercise physiology are unique and have a significant impact on people’s everyday lives and I want to continue bringing it to those who will benefit the most from it.
I'm passionate about learning new methods and learning what my clients enjoy and how they approach exercise. I am always happy to chat about the many benefits and outcomes of exercise physiology so please get in contact if you have any questions or knowledge that you wish to share.
If you’re interested in learning more about who I am or want to ask any questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch at .
Charlotte Gill

Charlotte Gill

marketing assistant
My name is Charlotte, and I'm a sports enthusiast currently studying for a marketing degree. Although I am not an exercise physiologist, I have a passion for sports having a background in ski instructing and adaptive skiing. Like the team, I believe exercise is medicine and share a similar passion and values to help and motivate others I meet.
I've been fortunate enough to work globally with a background in event management, ski instructing, administrating, and climbing supervisor. However, working alongside the Be Physiology team as my dream role in marketing is a highlight. If you have had the pleasure of meeting the team, you will know their genuine, funny, knowledgeable, and passionate to help others. These are values that I also pride myself in, and I am so fortunate to be surrounded by like-minded colleagues.
Harry White AEP

Harry White AEP

co-founder / supervisor
Exercise physiology combines two of my favourite things: health and helping people. As an accredited exercise physiologist with more than seven years’ clinical experience, I have treated people presenting with a wide variety of health conditions and concerns, postural issues, chronic injuries and rehabilitation needs.
My expertise is spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders and helping my clients to achieve an improved quality of life through rehabilitation and functional training. Rehabilitation for spinal cord injuries and neurological disorders can be slow but incredibly rewarding for clients when results are achieved, no matter how small. Assisting people through learning useful skills and functional training is the most important role that an EP can play to help people lead a more fulfilled life.
Working for many years with people who have suffered serious injury or live with a disability, I know that taking a proactive approach to your health changes your life. If you care for your body, it will take care of you.
I’m passionate about helping people live a long, healthy and active life, so call today.