Exercise and Fitness Training After a Stroke

The Importance of Exercise for People Who Have Had a Stroke

Over the past few years, I’ve helped numerous stroke survivors begin exercising with a disability post stroke. These individuals have varying stroke types, including diverse presentations and some who rely on wheelchairs.

My first ever stroke rehabilitation personal training client is a stroke survivor and he has made consistent progress throughout our time together over the course of two years.

I continue to learn from him and others with similar conditions, shaping my perspective as a coach that helps develop post rehab exercise programmes.

This article dives into the importance of exercise and life after stroke with stroke patients, shedding light on their unique needs, and highlighting the transformative power of fitness in their recovery journey

Understanding Stroke: An Overview

A stroke, medically termed a Cerebrovascular accident, stands as a formidable health challenge, triggered by the infarction of neurons in the brain due to vascular impairment. Put simply, it occurs when the blood supply to a specific brain area is obstructed, posing life-threatening consequences for the affected individual (2)

The Importance of Exercise Interventions

Recovering from a stroke is a journey marked by substantial challenges. Given the profound physical and neurological ramifications of a stroke, exercise emerges as a cornerstone in regaining bodily control and strength (5). Basic daily functions like standing, walking, and balance may be compromised, underscoring the necessity for targeted interventions to mitigate stroke effects (8).

Multifaceted physical therapy forms the bedrock of stroke recovery, encompassing aerobic, strength, flexibility, balance, coordination, and neuromuscular training (4, 9). The exercise guidelines say that stroke survivors should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly (9). Customised exercise programs, overseen by trained professionals, are recommended for optimal outcomes, with ongoing adjustments as needed (9).

Navigating Post-Stroke Challenges

Stroke patients often grapple with post-stroke problems with movement, function, mobility, balance, cognition, attention, memory, pain, sensation, and perception (7). Emotional and psychological issues further compound the challenges, underscoring the holistic nature of stroke recovery (7).

Understanding Muscle Weakness and Rehabilitation

Muscle weakness, particularly in the upper and lower body, emerges as a hallmark symptom post-stroke, attributed to paresis, wherein muscular action is impaired (2). Extensive research underscores significant muscle alterations post-stroke, including loss of mass and decline in fibre length, with lower limbs bearing a disproportionate burden (3). Hamstring muscles are particularly impacted, given their critical role in daily activities like trunk movement, walking, and jumping (1).

Addressing Hamstring Weakness Post-Stroke

Observations of stroke patients highlight the prevalence of hamstring weakness, a significant consequence with far-reaching implications (1, 15). Before a stroke, the brain orchestrates muscle function via the spinal cord, facilitating contraction and relaxation. However, post-stroke, impaired brain function disrupts this process, resulting in hamstring weakness (1).

In conclusion, navigating stroke recovery necessitates a comprehensive approach that encompasses exercise interventions, rehabilitation, and holistic support. Understanding the multifaceted challenges of stroke and the nuanced aspects of muscle weakness post-stroke is imperative for crafting effective rehabilitation strategies that promote recovery and enhance quality of life for stroke survivors.

Groups We Work With

If you are somebody that is in recovery, you might have some concerns or questions about stroke and exercise. For example, you probably wonder what is the most effective exercise for stroke patients or think what is the protocol for stroke exercise?

While there are some fantastic resources online such as CROI and Irish Heart that provide education about the various types of strokes, there are few opportunities for stroke rehabilitation in Ireland.

Exwell Medical offers fantastic medical exercise rehabilitation classes but their capacity is limited.

Led by an experienced coach in the realm of stroke rehabilitation and exercise training, Lauren provides personal training for people recovering from strokes in Waterford.

Submit your information below and make an inquiry regarding personal training for stroke exercise after rehabilitation.


  1. Ali, S. K. (2020). Risk factors related to mastalgia. Indian Journal of Forensic Medicine & Toxicology, 11. https://doi.org/10.37506/ijfmt.v14i4.12317
  2. Binuyo Overcomer and Adejimi Olaolu. (2022). “Hamstring Weakness: A Sequel of Cerebrovascular Accident”. Acta Scientific Orthopaedics 77-81.
  3. Gray, V., Rice, C., & Garland, S. (2012). Factors That Influence Muscle Weakness Following Stroke and Their Clinical Implications: A Critical Review. Physiotherapy Canada, 64(4), 415-426. https://doi.org/10.3138/ptc.2011-03
  4. Han, P., Zhang, W., Kang, L., Ma, Y., Fu, L., Jia, L., Yu, H., Chen, X., Hou, L., Wang, L., Yu, X., Kohzuki, M., & Guo, Q. (2017). Clinical evidence of exercise benefits for stroke. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology, 131–151. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-10-4304-8_9
  5. Hoffman, H. (2022, September 6). Reclaim mobility with at home leg exercises for stroke recovery. Saebo. Retrieved October 10, 2022, from https://www.saebo.com/blog/reclaim-mobility-with-leg-exercises-for-stroke-recovery/
  6. Kato, K., Vogt, T., & Kanosue, K. (2019). Brain activity underlying muscle relaxation. Frontiers in Physiology, 10. https://doi.org/10.3389/fphys.2019.01457
  7. Saunders, D. H., Greig, C. A., & Mead, G. E. (2014). Physical activity and exercise after stroke. Stroke, 45(12), 3742–3747. https://doi.org/10.1161/strokeaha.114.004311
  8. Tyson, S. F., Hanley, M., Chillala, J., Selley, A., & Tallis, R. C. (2006). Balance disability after stroke. Physical Therapy, 86(1), 30–38. https://doi.org/10.1093/ptj/86.1.30
  9. Rudd, A., Bowen, A., Young, G. and James, M., 2017. The latest national clinical guideline for stroke. Clinical Medicine, 17(2), pp.108