Physical fitness is the ability to perform exercise and functions with undue fatigue and can include a wide range of activities such as day-to-day tasks as well a leisure activities. Physical fitness can be broken down into the following components;
- Cardiovascular Fitness (endurance)
- Muscle Strength
- Muscle power
In the non-stroke population, research has shown that physical fitness can deteriorate with age, inactivity and secondary consequences related to chronic disease. A period of immobility due to illness or injury can also lead to a loss of independence and a decrease in quality of life.
In the stroke population, low levels of activity are very common and further exacerbate the issue of poor fitness. If you live at home and have had a stroke, your cardiovascular fitness is typically 50% of the value expected in age and gender matched healthy individuals. Your muscle power and strength are also typically less than 50% of aged matched controls in the affected side, and your flexibility and balance may be severely compromised. If you have had a stroke, there is a strong correlation showing that your pre-stroke fitness levels likely low, with physical inactivity and low fitness levels being risk factors associated with stroke. Most strokes effect the elderly who are commonly sedentary, however, with the rise in cardiovascular disease and sedentary lifestyles, strokes are also becoming more common in the younger population.
As well as the the direct neurological effects of a stroke, there may be secondary complications relating to muscle shortening, spasticity and stiffness which limit your ability to move independently and efficiently. Post-stroke inactivity and limitation, or inability to perform activities of daily living are associated with low physical fitness. Rehabilitation is therefore crucial to help you restore as much motor function, strength and fitness as possible, and also to help you maintain your functional ability once you have achieved optimal recovery.
Training principles for physical fitness involve different types of training and doses of training. There are three different types of training:
- Cardiovascular training – looking to improve cardiovascular fitness
- Resistance training – looking to improve muscle strength and power
- Combined training – utilising both cardiovascular and resistance training
Dose of training involves
- Frequency – number of sessions, repetitions, duration
- Intensity – how hard you work
Another aspect of training to be considered is progression of training. If training is not progressed as required then improvements will begin to plateau.
If you have had a stroke, increasing your physical fitness is important because it will help to;
- Decreases fatigue
- Decreases falls
- Decreases disability
- Increases independence
- Increases quality of life
At Advance Rehab Centre we have a wide range of services and specialist facilities to ensure we can provide all types of training to optimise your physical fitness in order to achieve and maintain your goals. If you don’t feel that you have reached your full potential, then please, give us a call