You’ve had an acute stroke, and you don’t know what you could do to help yourself live a healthier life. One of the best gifts you can give yourself if you are a stroke victim is to lose weight. If you are overweight, you increase your risk of having a second stroke. In addition, carrying around so much weight is not good for other processes in the body. You may think that since you have disabilities following your acute stroke, then you are helpless to lose weight. Think again. With dedication, intelligence, and support from medical professionals, you can lose weight and make surviving a stroke a piece of … celery.
Reasons to Lose Weight
The reasons to lose weight after an acute stroke are numerous, indeed. The most important reason is to prevent a second acute stroke that may be more severe than the first one or that may take your life. Those who are of a healthier weight cut their risk of stroke severely, and that’s a good enough reason to try to get your weight under control.
Losing weight also helps with stroke comorbidities. It is a well-known fact that those who weigh less control their blood pressure and cholesterol levels with ease. This may be from the diet you eat when attempting to lose weight or it may be from the actual lack of excess poundage itself. Either way, losing the weight helps to cut down on these two important risk factors. Losing weight will also help you to control your blood sugar, which is another risk factor for a second stroke. Your weight can have an effect on your mobility which can impact your mood. Depression after an acute stroke is common, and exercise and weight loss can combat this side effect.
Eating after an acute stroke may pose some challenges for you. Depending on the severity of the stroke, you may not be able to chew and swallow food as you once did. Still, it is important to eat a healthy diet, no matter what form it is in. Some stroke victims lose weight quickly after a stroke because they just refuse to eat. This can be as dangerous as eating the wrong things because your body will quickly turn to lean tissue, such as muscle, to use as fuel. To get your body to use the fat, you need to eat a nutritious diet.
You should eat a diet that is low in saturated fats, such as white meat, to keep your cholesterol levels under control. A high fat diet will lead to further clogging of your arteries and a higher risk for stroke. You also need to eat a diabetic diet to keep your blood sugar within normal levels. As if that wasn’t enough, you should restrict your sodium intake, too, so you can avoid retaining water and having high blood pressure. You should speak with a dietician to determine how best to juggle these different restrictions. Sometimes it can be frustrating to look at all the restrictions your health puts on your food intake. You cannot give up and eat what you want, though, because you will likely have a second stroke. Instead, work with the professionals to find foods that you can eat safely that will help you to lose weight and control your comorbidities.
If you’ve had a severe stroke, you may wonder how you will ever be able to exercise. In fact, you can exercise in many different ways under the supervision of a physical therapist. With the calorie-controlled diet you eat from your dietician, you can burn some of those calories at the hand treadmill, by walking around the physical therapy room, or by doing strength exercises with your non-affected limbs. Anything that raises your heart rate will help you to lose weight and bring all of the benefits along with it.
Three different types of exercise are important to the stroke victim. For the purposes of losing weight, exercises that raise your heart rate are the most important. These include such things as walking, using a bike, or the hand cycle. The second type of exercise you need to include is strength training. When you have a stroke, you lose the strength in the muscles that were affected. By exercising them, you regain some of the mobility you used to have. The last important piece to this puzzle is flexibility. This is needed for contracted muscles to regain their full range of motion and start to function again. No matter how severe your stroke, exercise is an important component in your rehabilitation, and losing weight is just a helpful side effect of all your work.
Everyday Health; The Importance of Exercise After a Stroke; Madeline Vann, MPH; October 2009