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Stroke Prevention Lifestyle Tips

Revamp Your Diet continued...

When your cupboard is bare, it can be all too easy to resort to fast food. "That's why it's so important to have healthy foods available at all times," Zumpano says. She suggests stocking up on convenience items such as low-fat and low-sodium frozen dinners, fruit such as apples and oranges that won't spoil quickly, and granola bars and trail mix so that you always have healthy meal and snack options on hand.

You can boost your weight loss efforts by eating breakfast every day, keeping portions small, drinking plenty of water or other calorie-free drinks, and learning how to make healthy choices when eating out.

Make Your Move

When it comes to the benefits of exercise, there is really no downside to moving your body. However, because you've had a stroke, you should talk with your doctor before starting an exercise program. Once you get the OK, these tips can help you get moving.

  • If you have disabilities from your stroke, work with your doctor or physical therapist to tailor an exercise program that works for you.
  • For most people, taking a 20 to 30 minute walk every day is ideal. If that length of time is too much for you right now, break it up into two or three 10-minute chunks throughout the day.
  • Gradually build up to at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise on most days. Moderate-intensity level activities include brisk walking, gardening, water aerobics, and wheeling yourself around if you are in a wheel chair.

Moderation in All Things -- Especially Alcohol

Heavy alcohol use -- more than one to two drinks a day -- increases the risk of stroke by 69% in people who haven't had a stroke. Excessive drink can also increase your blood pressure.

Moderate alcohol use -- defined as two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women -- may actually help protect against stroke. Any more than that may put your health at risk. However, if you don't drink, there is no reason to start.

If you need to cut back, avoid having alcohol in the house, try not to drink every day, and learn to savor alcohol -- not gulp it. If you feel like you can't control your drinking, talk with your doctor about how to stop.

Make Stroke Prevention a Family Affair

"A stroke affects everyone in the family, not just the person who had the stroke," Goldstein says. "Make a plan as a family to eat healthier, get more exercise, and clear the air of cigarette smoke. By working together, you'll find it easier to stick with new habits."

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Reviewed on May 10, 2012

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