Like many people, lifestyle was a major factor in my having a stroke. I had a stressful job, worked long hours doing something I loved, ate and drank far too much, took little or no exercise and was seriously overweight.
Although it may seem incredible, as soon as I was able after my stroke, I went back to doing many of the things that had caused it. I now understand that this was an attempt to return to what I believed to be normality. Had I carried on I would have been well on my way to a second stroke, which I would probably not have survived.
At some point I decided to diet and to cut down my drinking. Unaware of this, my tutors at Norham Adult Learning Centre mentioned that my mental performance had improved. It dawned on me then that my healthier lifestyle was responsible. It had been a source of frustration to me, a honours graduate, that I had severe learning difficulties. I could now see marked improvement in my learning.
My health regime is not fancy. It is based on well known principles. I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables and little red meat. I have reduced my salt consumption. I do not smoke and I have reduced my alcohol intake to well below Government safe levels. I control my cholesterol and blood pressure with medication.I also now know the benefit of rest.
In the early days I went to bed at lunchtime because I was exhausted. After an hour's sleep, I got up and bathed then changed and started the day again.
I take exercise. There is no question about the benefits of safe exercise for the stroke survivor. In the early stages of recovery I found Tai Chi the best for me. It combines exercise and meditation and can be done seated or standing. In my case it also helped lower my blood pressure.
Walking (in a group for safety purposes) is good exercise as is swimming. With GP referral many public pools offer 10 free sessions. After 5 years I took up Zumba. This is exercising in a group to various forms of music. I enjoyed it enormously and it helped improve my coordination.
As well as the health advantages all these activities provide social benefits by making one get out and meet other people.