Symptoms that could prevent you from doing physical exercises (2)

The Symptoms

Fast heart rate

You will surely know when your heart rate is faster than normal. Others call this sudden increase in heart rate as palpitation, and lately this has been used to refer to this medical situation. If you have palpitation—whether taking place so suddenly or has been there for some time—you need to have medical consultation because, if you do not, your heart will suffer. In some people, palpitation takes place when they have taken a cup—or more—of coffee. When this takes place, all you have to do is wait until the effect of caffeine which is so preponderant in your coffee wanes, and your heart rate returns to normal. However, if your heart rate has been so fast for some time compared to your previous ones, then you need to see a medical doctor because you might have a problem in your thyroid gland, and you will need medication(s) to control it. If your heart rate is fast, refrain from having physical exercises because it will increase all the more if you do. Return to having physical exercises only once your heart rate is restored to normal.

Swelling of the legs

If you have swollen legs, it could mean a lot of things. Foremost, it is possible that you have kidney or heartdisease. Thus, you need to consult a medical doctor who will work you up and find your problem. By doing physical examinations, your medical doctor could immediately determine if you have a heart disease. More often than not, if you have swollen legs and you have a history of high blood pressure, your heart has been enlarged, and it is beginning to fail. In another saying, you are starting to have heart failure. Therefore, you are not allowed to have physical exercises for the moment, and you will need clearance from your medical doctor before you can return to the gym.

The other possibility is you have been suffering from kidney disease. Hence, your medical doctor will request you to undergo a urine test which is popularly known as urinalysis. Urinalysis is a very simple test, and it is very cheap. However, your medical doctor could derive a lot of information from it. If your problem is a simple infection, you will be prescribed with the most appropriate antibiotic(s), and you can return to the gym after controlling the infection. In some instances, however, the problem is irreversible or untreatable. In such case, you will be barred from returning to the gym, especially if there is difficulty in controlling your blood pressure.

Difficulty in sleeping

In some people, difficulty in sleeping is being experienced. Medically, this is known as insomnia. If you are one of them, then you need to consult a medical doctor because lack of sleep could cause accident while you are doing work out in the gym. There are a number of possibilities to consider if you have insomnia. Firstly, you might have anemia—a blood disorder wherein the number of your red blood cells is low. If you have anemia, your heart rate is usually faster than normal; this prevents you from falling asleep. Secondly, you might have a problem in your thyroid gland which could be hyperthyroidism. If you have been suffering from hyperthyroidism, your heart has been being overworked, aside from the fact that you have been experiencing insomnia. Hence, if you have been suffering from insomnia, consult a medical doctor at once so that you could be prescribed with the necessary medication(s). Do not insist on having your physical exercises, lest you will meet accident or aggravate your medical condition.

Symptoms that could prevent you from doing physical exercises(1)

The Symptoms

Back pain

If you have been experiencing back pain for the last few months, accompanied by some urinary disturbances, such as more frequent urination and low abdominal discomfort, it is possible that you have been suffering from urinary tract infection (UTI). You need to consult a medical doctor, and, more often than not, he will request you to have examination of the urine, otherwise known as urinalysis. If it turns out that you haveUTI, then you will be prescribed with the most appropriate antibiotic(s).

If your back pain, however, is acute—that is, it happened so suddenly—then you need to consider compression of your spinal nerves. This consideration is most probable if you have a history of trauma or injury at the back. However, even if there was no trauma, you need to factor in spinal nerve(s) injury, and you need to consult a medical doctor who is either a general practitioner, neurologist, or rehabilitation medical doctor. If you have spinal nerve(s) injury, and you insisted on having your physical exercises, it is possible that you will injure yourself all the more, and you will aggravate your medical problem. Hence, prior to totally ruling out the possibility of spinal nerve(s) injury, you need to refrain from having physical exercises.

If it is confirmed that you have spinal nerve(s) injury, resulting from compression, the basic management is for you to have bed rest for at least seven days. It could be longer, depending on the severity of your medical problem. In addition, you will have sessions under the rehabilitation medicine department, wherein traction and physical therapy will be administered to you. You will be asked to report for physical therapy for around ten sessions—each session lasting for at least one hour. You will be taught how to perform the different physical therapies, and you will continue doing them at home.

Joint pain

If you have been experiencingjoint pain—whether acute or chronic—you need to refrain from having physical exercises. You need to consult a medical doctor first to find out what is your problem, and you will be prescribed with the necessary medications. If the pain is gone, then you can resume your physical exercises. If you insist to do your physical exercises, in spite of your joint pain, then you will aggravate your problem, and it will be harder to treat it.

Sudden weakness of one or more extremities

Sudden weakness of one or more extremities is a symptom that cannot be taken for granted. It could be a symptom of stroke (bleeding in the brain), especially if you have a history of hypertension and you have been taking medications for it—and worse, if you have not been taking medications in spite of knowing that you have hypertension. Immediately, consult a medical doctor so that your medical problem could be diagnosed at once. Refrain from doing your physical exercises because, if you do, you might aggravate your medical condition. Much worse, you will die from it.

Getting tired so easily

If you have been well and good, then suddenly in the last few days you have been experiencing easy fatigability or getting tired so easily, it is possible that your blood pressure has risen. Refrain from doing your physical exercises. Instead, consult a medical doctor, and have your blood pressure checked. If your blood pressure is higher than normal, then your medical doctor will surely prescribe you with the right medications. Take them regularly and faithfully! Once your blood pressure is controlled, you can return to the gym, and resume your workouts.

                                 (To be continued)

 

Basic principles in doing physical exercises[1](Part 2)

“Principle 5: Regularity[1]

This principle means that when you have decided to run for three times a week, then do that commitment consistently! If the gap between your exercise days varies a lot, you will not largely benefit from your physical exercises. In other words, your physical exercise does not practically contribute in your fitness if not done consistently and regularly. Always remember that it is hard to develop fitness; however, it is very easy to lose it! Thus, the fitness that you have gained within a period of one month could be lost approximately in one week if you stopped exercising for that period[1]!

“Principle 6: Individuality”[1]

No individual is a complete replica of another. Each one is different from others. Hence, what you can afford to do—in terms of the intensity and frequency of a particular physical exercise—cannot be performed by, and imposed to, another. There are a lot of factors that will determine your capacity to do a particular exercise. Some factors that could affect such capacity are the following: sex, age, height, weight, genetic make-up, length of time that you have been having physical exercises, and many more[1]. Thus, if you see your friend to have an easier time doing a particular work-out, do not conclude that you can do it as well! You may injure yourself! What you need to do is listen to your body and find out what you can afford to do. Never use another individual as your benchmark! Your own self is your benchmark.

“Principle 7: Patience”[1]

Fitness is not achieved overnight! Neither is it lost overnight! Whatever is the outcome, you need weeks and months to achieve it—not days! From being sedentary, an adult person needs from eight to ten weeks to achieve fitness[1]! Hence, you cannot fast track the development of your fitness! You need time to achieve it! Most of all, you need patience to achieve it! If you lack patience, you will tend to hurry up your gym sessions even if your body is not ready to tackle it! If you insist, you might injure yourself!

“Principle 8: Moderation”[1]

Too much of anything is bad! Thus, excessive drinking, exercising, book writing, gardening under the sun, and other preoccupations are bad. You need to balance your habitual work which usually generates stress in you with physical exercises which could counteract its adverse effects[1].

“Principle 9: Reversibility”[1]

When you exercise regularly, you will achieve a certain degree of fitness. If for a reason you stop in some days to exercise, your fitness will be decreased to a certain extent. If you stop completely from exercising, all your fitness will slip away. To preserve your fitness, do not stop completely from exercising. Hence, use your fitness; otherwise, you will lose it[1]!

“Principle 10: Share the flowers”[1]

The earlier you decide to have regular physical exercises, the better it will be! It will be a hard decision because you really need to eke out time for it. However, the moment you have reached that decision to give yourself some exercises, it will be the beginning of wellness for yourself. While doing it, however, you must still have the time to smell flowers and appreciate the gift of time that is given to you. When you meet others, encourage them to do the same: to have regular physical exercises. When you do that, you are not only sharing your knowledge—you are sharing the flowers [1]!

Reference:

Glover, Bob, Shepherd, Jack, and Glover, Shelly-lynn Florence. The Runner’s Handbook. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.

Basic principles in doing physical exercises[1](Part 1)

“Principle 1: Overload Gently[1]

This principle means that you can increase the load of your physical exercises as you progress in your program; however, it should be done gradually. If you have running program, during the first week, the best that you can do is merely to walk for thirty minutes each day or every other day. On the second week, you can maintain the distance and frequency of your running, but this time you can walk alternately with running. Hence, you can walk for a total of 15 minutes and run for another 15 minutes.

There are three factors that will determine the load that you could give to yourself. These are frequency (how often), intensity (how fast), and time (how far). In increasing the load of your physical exercise, you need to alter just one of the factors. As much as possible, do not change more than one of the factors; otherwise, you will be confused as to whether you are increasing your load or not. In the example above, by shifting from total walking to alternating walking with running, in effect, you are only changing the intensity of the exercise. The frequency and time are not changed! They remain constant[1]!

“Principle 2: Progressive Stress – Train, Don’t Strain”[1]

As mentioned in the preceding section, introduction of additional load to your physical exercises should be done gradually. By the same token, when you train yourself to increase your stamina, you should also do it in progressive manner. You may not know it, but your body has great potential to progress in its ability to tackle whatever amount of load that you will introduce for as long as it is done in progressive manner. While it could gradually adapt to higher load, however, it has also limits; hence, do not strain your body.Once it has reached its highest load, stay there for some time. Do not increase it further. You may decrease a little bit, but not so much[1].

“Principle 3: Recovery – The Hard-Easy Method”[1]

There are times when you feel good and strong after doing a certain set of physical exercises. For this reason, you are sometimes tempted to do it again the following day! For your information, that is not the right way to do your physical exercises! Although you feel good, you need to rest the following day and allow your body to recover from the previous workout. There are no hard and fast rule on how many days you should rest before you do your physical exercises again! It depends on what your body can afford to do. Therefore, you need to listen to your body. If you need two days to rest, then do so. Another option that you can do is instead of totally resting on the recovery days, you can do light workouts[1].

“Principle 4: Specificity”

The set of physical exercises that you do depends on your goal. If you want to develop the muscles of your upper extremities, then you do push-ups. If you want to reduce the size of your bulging abdomen, then you do sit-up exercise. If you want to give more endurance to your heart and muscles, then you can do running! For a particular of goal, there is a set of muscles to be developed and strengthened; therefore, it requires a particular type of physical exercise.If you want to join in a running competition, then your training should revolve around running! You cannot do swimming as your daily physical exercise or focus of training, then you will compete in running! Your type of training depends on your goal[1]!

Reference:

Glover, Bob, Shepherd, Jack, and Glover, Shelly-lynn Florence. The Runner’s Handbook. New York: Penguin Books USA Inc., 1996.

Muscle cramps (Part 3)

How can you prevent muscle cramps?

Have adequate hydration

For intense physical exercises, there are quantitative guidelines on how to hydrate yourself. However, for light physical exercises, there are two rules of thumb that you can follow and remember: (1) the moment you feel being thirsty, feeling of dryness in the throat, take enough water to quench it, and (2) if you are not sweating in spite of having your usual physical exercise, it is possible that you are not properly hydrated. As mentioned previously, maintain the intensity and duration of your physical exercises; do not drastically change it. If you have been following that, but now you are not sweating ascompared to previous ones, then it is highly probable that you are not well hydrated. Take whatever hydrating fluid you have, but plain water is still the best!

Adequate stretching before physical exercises

It was stated in previous article of Powertec the need to have stretching prior to, and after,   havingphysical exercises. In most gyms, there are illustrations pasted and displayed on the wall showing how to properly do them. Follow the instructions, and this will help you prevent having muscle cramps.

Let existing injury heal first

If you have an existing injury, don’t be in a hurry to re-start your physical exercises! At the very least, what you can do is to adjust the intensity and duration of your physical exercises to what you can well afford to do, or totally avoid it for the moment! Before you return to the gym, secure medical clearance from your physician to protect you from aggravating your existing injury.

Do not drastically change your usual regimen

Fatigue of muscles is one of the causes of muscle cramps. For this reason, do not drastically change the intensity and duration of your physical exercises. If ever you want to intensify, do it gradually. If you have been out of the gym for so long, bereft of the usual periodic physical exercises, when you return, do not immediately plunge yourself to your usual work out! Start from your baseline intensity and duration and gradually build it up again. Of course, you will feel that your body could very well adjust to the building up! You will easily catch up and return to your usual work out because you have been exercising for so long, and you had been investing in improving your health; your building up will be much easier and faster compared to someone who would start having physical exercises for the first time! You will feel the difference!

Take vitamins and minerals

The different vitamins and minerals are necessary for some chemical reactions in the body to proceed and take place. Without them, vital processes in the systems will be curtailed. Hence, you will feel some discomfort in your body—one of which is muscle cramps! Daily, take ascorbic acid, vitamin B complex, calcium, potassium, magnesium, and glucosamine sulfate tablets. Consult previous articles of Powertec for the right dosages.

However, if you want to lessen your intake of vitamins and minerals in tablet forms, you can take the following foods:prevent muscle cramps

References:

Internet Website:

www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page2.htm

Book:

Roth, Ruth A. Nutrition and Diet Therapy. Singapore: Delmar Learning, 2007.

Suggested further readings:

  • Powertec article titled: Eleven basic rules in doing gym exercises: Importance of proper form in strength training and how Powertec machines help in reducing the risk of injury
  • Powertec article titled: Causes of injury while doing physical exercises
  • Powertec articles titled: Muscle cramps (Part 1 and 2)

Muscle cramps (Part 2)

What are the other causes of muscle cramps?

Low potassium

Low potassium level in the blood could cause muscle cramps. However, this is more associated with muscle weakness.

Body fluid shifts

In his lifetime, if a person has drunk a lot of alcohol for some decades and if he was afflicted with hepatitis, the liver will be injured. When these injuries heal, scarring will be produced, and a lot of fibers will be formed in the liver. This medical condition is known as cirrhosis of the liver.Workout for Health

When the liver is cirrhotic, or filled with scarring and fibers, the flow of blood coming from the (1) hepatic artery and (2) hepatic portal vein through the liver is obstructed. Consequently, fluids (represented by the olive green representations in Figure 1) seeping out from both the hepatic artery and hepatic portal vein will spill in the abdominal cavity, ultimately producing a collection of fluid consisting of proteins, glucose, and electrolytes, like sodium and potassium. This movement of fluid from the blood vessels into the abdominal cavity is called body fluid shift.

When there is body fluid shift, not only fluid distribution is disturbed but also the distribution of electrolytes, such as sodium and potassium. When potassium is taken out from the circulation, this could produce muscle cramps!

Alteration in the distribution of potassium could also take place during dialysis and in some cases of kidney failure. Thus, muscle cramps could also take place in these situations.

Intake of some medications

Intake of some medications could cause muscle cramps. Foremost is the diuretic called furosemide, whose brand name is Lasix, which could effect vigorous removal of body fluids, leading to depletion of some electrolytes, like sodium, potassium, calcium and magnesium. When these electrolytes are significantly removed from the circulation and tissues, they could cause muscle cramps.

Other medications that could cause muscle cramps are the following: donepezil for Alzheimer’s disease, neostigmine for myasthenia gravis, raloxifene for osteoporosis, tolcapone for Pankinson’s disease, nifedipine for high blood pressure, terbutaline for asthma, and lovastatin for lowering cholesterol.

Vitamin Deficiency

Some vitamin deficiencies may lead to muscle cramps. These are deficiencies in thiamine (B1), pantothenic acid, and pyridoxine (B6).Thus, for individuals who go to the gym regularly, and also for some of those who do not, a daily intake of vitamin B complex tablet is recommended, containing around 100 mg of thiamine, 5 mg of pyridoxine, 5 mg of pantothenic acid and 50 mcg of cyanocobalamine.

How can we treat muscle cramps?

Stretching the muscle

Stretching the involved muscle can be used to stop the cramp. For some cramps of the feet and legs, the concerned person can stand up then walk around. For a calf muscle cramp, there are two ways of treating it: (1) the person can stand around 2 to 2.5 feet from the wall (more if the person is taller) and lean by placing the forearms against it with the knees and back straight and the heels in contact with the ground or floor, or (2) while still lying down, the ankle is flexed by pulling the toes up toward the head with the leg extended as straight as possible. For a writer’s cramp, the hand will be pressed against the wall with the palm in contact with it. This will stretch the flexor muscles of the fingers, finally stopping the cramp.

 

Muscle cramps (Part 1)

What are muscle cramps?

Normally, when we move, there are skeletal muscles involved in it. To execute a particular move, a muscle or a group of muscles will have to alternately contract and relax. In some instances, however, suddenly and without warning, one or more muscle(s) contract(s) in a sustained manner, and the person involved in it has no control over the muscular contraction. This is called muscle crampor true cramps. It is painful, and the concerned individual, in most of the times, will be forced to stop from whatever s/he is doing. The sustained muscular contraction could take place for a few secondsor up to a quarter of an hour.

What are the causes of muscle crmuscle cramp amps?

Injury

When there is an existing injury in the musculo-skeletal system, a muscle cramp takes place because the body tends to protect the injured part. In this situation, there is a need to treat the existing injury, lest the muscle cramp keeps on recurring!

Fatigue of muscles

When a muscle or group of muscles isoverused in a physical activity, such as in a gym or outdoor physical exercises, a muscle cramp may take place. Overusing of muscles takes place when a person suddenly executes a physical exercise whose intensity and/or durationis(are) beyond what s/he used to do. If, for instance, you have been doing a treadmill exercise for only 30 minutes in a day, but suddenly you increased it to one hour, you might experience muscle cramp, either during, immediately after, or several hours after the physical exercise.

If you have been doing weightlifting, usually lifting 10 kilograms of weight, but, without proper preparation and training, you suddenly used 15-kilogram weight, you may also experience muscle cramp.

Improper positioning

Proper positioningwhile working or playinggreatly contributes in the prevention of muscle cramps. For instance, if you are using the keyboard of a computer or a laptop, ensure that your wrists are well rested on the working table, and not left hanging beyond its edge! Ensure that your head is well rested at its back against a head support structure of your chair! Ensure that your eyesight level is in line with the computer screen, not very much lower or higher! When you play a particular sport, play it with the right form!

Improper and awkward positioning while asleep could be another cause of muscular cramp! Since you cannot really control your sleeping position, the least that you can do is to have firm and flat bed that will prevent your body from sagging!

Dehydration

When you work out in a gym, or engage in an outdoor sport, you will have perspiration that will release the extra heat generated in your body. However, it is not only water and heat that are released; included is the electrolyte, sodium, that plays a very vital role in maintaining the blood pressure. When significant amount of sodium is taken out from your body, arising mainly from intense physical activity and/or use of medicine, such as diuretics (medicines that promote urination), occurrence of muscle cramp is very likely.

Low blood calcium and/or magnesium

Scientific literatures have established that low calcium and/or magnesium level in the blood could cause muscle cramp. The main reason is that when the blood levels of said electrolytes are low, the excitability of the nerve endings and the muscles being supplied by that nerve is high! Hence, with the slightest provocation, the muscle contracts, producing muscle cramp.

Low calcium and magnesium levels in the blood are caused by pregnancy, vomiting, use of diuretics, vitamin D deficiency and hyperventilation (fast breathing).

References:

Internet Website:

www.medicinenet.com/muscle_cramps/page2.htm

Suggested further readings:

  • Powertec article titled: Eleven basic rules in doing gym exercises: Importance of proper form in strength training and how Powertec machines help in reducing the risk of injury
  • Powertec article titled: Causes of injury while doing physical exercises

Physical exercises for stroke survivors (Part 3)

Precautions prior to having physical exercises

Stroke survivors need to observe some precautions prior to engaging in physical exercises. The reason is that s/he cannot immediately afford to start having a full-blown physical activity because now s/he has some physical limitations. Firstly, the muscles of his/her extremities—be it lower or upper—are now weak! Secondly, his/her blood pressure needs to be maintained at normal level while doing his/her physical exercises. Thus, high intensity—and highly strenuous—physical exercises are not allowed in the first few weeks of the program; and the allowable physical exercises will be introduced in gradual and incremental manner.

While it is true that some precautions limit the implementation of the physical exercise program for a stroke survivor, s/he cannot also afford not to have any physical activity at all for a long time; otherwise, his/her physical deterioration will be accelerated.

It has to be emphasized, too, that before any stroke survivor patient will start having physical exercises, that a medical doctor with specialty in rehabilitation medicine, or a physical therapist, be consulted beforehand because the physical exercise program needs to be customized, and tailored fit, to the medical condition of the patient. The severity of stroke is not the same in all patients; it varies from one patient to another.

In this article, some recommended physical exercises will be mentioned; it is meant to inform stroke survivors and their relatives that after acquiring the illness and the disability, that a lot of things can still be done to improve their medical condition. It is meant to erase the misconception that once afflicted with stroke, that you can no longer join any physical exercise program.

Recommended physical exercises

The American Heart Association (AHA) has recommended the following as the physical activities and exercises for stroke survivors:

While in the hospital:

  • Exposure to orthostatic or gravitational stress

While still in the hospital, the patient will be encouraged to have intermittent sitting or standing. In these exercises, the patient is exposed to stresses as a result of having an erect posture (orthostatic) or generated by the pull of gravity (gravitational). The patient is not given any extra physical load, but by the weight of his own body. After hospital discharge, the physical exercise therapy will be continued, focusing on improving the strength of the muscles paralyzed by the stroke.

After discharge from the hospital:

  • Aerobics

The AHA recommends that aerobic exercise training—combined cardiovascular, strength, and flexibility—be done three times a week for around 12 weeks. In most gym centers, every aerobic exercise session lasts for an hour. Thus, three hours of aerobic exercises per week needs to be done. Aerobic exercises are meant to stimulate and strengthen the heart and the lungs. Hence, the following can be done in a well calibrated mannerin a gym or an outdoor sports center: dancing, walking, jogging, or stationary rowing in a gym. If the person can afford to do it, based on the assessment of a medical doctor or physical therapist,  swimming or cycling can also be engaged in.

  • Treadmill exercise with or without body weight support

Treadmill exercise is also recommended; being a form of aerobic exercise, it can be done three times a week (three hours per week) for 6 months. The advantage of a treadmill exercise is that its intensity can be regulated and made progressive. In addition, if the patient cannot fully stand using his own strength, a body weight support can be put in place.

  • Strength training

A progressive resistance-training program, which was done within a 12-week period and twice per week, turned out to improve muscle strength, gait and balance of stroke survivors. The strength of lower limb was increased by 68% on the affected side. The motor performance and the ability to maintain balance when at rest and when moving also showed improvements. Thus, based on this study, it is recommended that stroke survivors be enrolled in progressive strength training for a 12-week period, done at twice per week.

Reference:

Gordon, Neil F., M. Gulanick, F. Costa, G. Fletcher, B. A. Franklin, E. J. Roth, and T. Shephard. “Physical Activity and Exercise Recommendations for Stroke Survivors”. Circulation 109 (2004): 2031-2041.

Physical exercises for stroke survivors (Part 2)

What are the underlying medical problems in stroke survivors?

Stroke survivors have something in common. More often than not, they have a history of diabetes mellitus, hypertension, elevated blood lipids (cholesterol and triglycerides) and being overweight.

Elevation of blood lipids

If we do a retrospective study of all patients who suffered from stroke, almost all of them will have a history of elevated blood cholesterol and/or triglycerides. If a person has elevated cholesterol level in the blood, s/he is a good candidate for heart and blood vessel diseases. The risk will be doubled if, at the same time, s/he has elevated triglyceride level. The reason for this is that cholesterol and triglycerides promote the deposition of the so-called atheroscleroticplaques in the large and small arteries that will eventually block—partially or totally—the opening of the said blood vessels. When the deposits of plaques have been significant, the blood vessels become inelastic, and the blood pressure ultimately rises.

Elevation of blood sugar in diabetes mellitus

In diabetes mellitus, the quantity of insulin which is responsible for the burning and use of glucose is low, if not inadequate. In some diabetics, the quantity of insulin is adequate; however, the quality is poor. Thus, the glucose in the blood rises. If the elevated blood glucose is not controlled for years and years, spanning decades, it will lead to the clogging of the small and large arteries and damage of the kidneys, ultimately leading to hypertension.

Being overweight

If a person is overweight, s/he is prone to develop hypertension. Thus, overweight people are encouraged to lose weight either by physical exercise or by dietary modifications.

What is the common consequence of elevated blood lipids, diabetes mellitus, and being overweight?  

They all lead to the development of hypertension, which could cause the rupture of small blood vessels in the brain, leading to stroke.

What does physical exercise do to would-be stroke victims and the stroke survivors?  

With regular and consistent physical exercises, the following will be achieved to prevent the occurrence and recurrence of stroke:

  • The blood lipid levels—cholesterol and triglycerides—will go down, thus preventing the deposition of lipid plaquesin the heart and blood vessels;
  • It will lower the blood level of the low-density lipoprotein(LDL) which is considered as the “bad cholesterol” since it promotes the deposition of lipid plaques;
  • It will increase the blood level of the high-density lipoprotein(HDL) which is considered as the “good cholesterol” since it prevents the deposition of lipid plaques;
  • It will improve the competence of insulin in promoting the burning and use of glucose, thus lowering the blood glucose level;
  • It will reduce the amount of fats stored in the different organs of the body;
  • It will promote the reduction of body weight;
  • It will reduce the level of the so-called C-reactive protein which, to a large degree, serves as an index of inflammation in the body.

All of the above will prevent the gradual elevation of blood pressure; therefore, in the long run, it will also prevent the occurrence and recurrence of stroke.

Among stroke survivors, the most common problem that they experience is the weakness of the lower and upper extremities; thus, the introduction of physical exercises as part of their daily living will be done in a unique and different manner.This will be the concern of the ensuing article(s).

Physical exercises for stroke survivors (Part 1)

What is stroke?

In the previous articles of Powertec, some discussions have been made regarding the nature of hypertension—its complications, prevention, and treatment. Among its complications, stroke is the worst because it could be fatal! Therefore, the occurrence of this complication must be prevented at all costs!

As in other parts of the human body, there are blood vessels which transport blood to the brain. The main difference, however, is that the blood vessels in the brain are so thin, and they were made by Mother Nature that way to allow an effective exchange of gases in it—that is, the oxygen must come in and the carbon dioxide must come out!That seemingly simple process cannot take place if the blood vessel wall in the brain is thick and impermeable!Among the different organs of the human body, the brain is the most sensitive to the availability of oxygen, and it cannot afford to have no oxygen for a long time! Otherwise, it is irreversibly damaged!

Being thin, the blood vessels in the brain cannot withstand high blood pressure! Thus, when the blood pressure of a person is not managed properly—unchecked and untreated—and it rises to a high level, well over and above 140/90 mm Hg for a long time, the blood vessel wall in the brain could rupture and burst, allowing the blood to flow in the brain substance. This medical occurrence is called stroke, or intracerebral hemorrhage, or intracerebral accident.

What are the complications and aftermath of stroke?

If the stroke is so massive and severe, the blood that flows into the brain substance may compress on the respiratory and/or the cardiac center(s) which control(s) the breathing and heart contractions, respectively! When this takes place, the person may die—thus, the need to properly control high blood pressure!

If the stroke is not so massive, the person may still live; however, he will harbor some complications, such as weakness of the extremities, slurring of speech, facial deformities resulting from the imbalance contractions of the muscles in the face, and inability to control urination and/or defecation. This situation will surely exact a lot of difficulties among the relatives who will care for the patient! It will be time consuming and very expensive!

What can be done for a stroke survivor?

Control of blood pressure

Being a hypertensive patient, s/he needs maintenance medication(s) for his/her blood pressure. S/he cannot afford not to take his/her medication(s), because if another episode of stroke takes place, s/he may die from it! The probability of death is higher among patients with repeat strokes than those who had it for the first time.

Control of blood sugar

More often than not, hypertensive patients are at the same time diabetics. If this is the case, the blood sugar must be controlled, too! Thus, the patient needs to have maintenance medication(s) to normalize his/her blood sugar! If the blood sugar is not controlled, it will aggravate the elevated blood pressure that the patient has been suffering from!

Dietary modifications

Stroke survivors need to have changes in their diet. Firstly, s/he must avoid high fat diet; secondly, s/he must avoid high salt diet! These two dietary modifications, if followed to the letter, will greatly contribute in the effective control of blood pressure.

Lifestyle changes

Stop smoking

Most of stroke survivors are cigarette smokers; they should be encouraged to stop from smoking.

Engage in physical exercises

A number of medical literatures have discussed the positive role of regular physical exercises among stroke survivors. This will be discussed in the next article (s).