Stroke Prevention Exercise Program (S-PEP) Exercise Guidelines

The Comprehensive Stroke and Rehabilitation Services programs at UW Hospital and Clinics have partnered to create a special exercise program for people who have had strokes. The Stroke Prevention Exercise Program or "S-PEP" has been designed to give you safe and fun exercise options to help prevent new strokes.


The exercise guidelines below were created by the S-PEP team to teach you how to create and progress your own exercise program.


Man happily exercising on a StairmasterHow should I get ready for my workout?

  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Wear loose, comfortable clothing
  • Drink plenty of water

How often should I exercise?

  • Three to seven days per week is advised.
  • Begin with three days per week.
  • Slowly progress to five to seven days per week.
  • Work up to five to seven days per week by week 6.

How long should I exercise?

  • 20 to 60 minutes of moderate effort exercise per workout is advised.
  • Begin with at least 10 minutes per workout if you can.
  • Slowly increase the time when that begins to feel easy.
  • Try to increase your time by about 10 percent per week.If during the first week you start exercising for 10 minutes per workout, during the second week increase to 11 minutes.
  • Include extra time for warming up and cooling down.If you exercise for 10 minutes per workout, add an extra 5 minutes for warming up and an extra 5 to 10 minutes for cooling down and stretching.

How should I warm up?

  • Use the Borg Scale to rate your level of effort - how hard you feel you are exercising.
  • Start exercising below 11 (fairly light).
  • Slowly increase your level of effort over five minutes.
  • Increase your effort until you are in your goal range of 13-14 (somewhat hard).

How hard should I exercise?

  • Use the Borg Scale to rate your level of effort.
  • Exercise in your goal range of 13-14 (somewhat hard) for the entire workout.
  • Adjust your level of effort to stay in your goal range.
  • Do not exercise at or above 15 (hard).

What are signs that I am exercising too hard?

How should I cool down?

  • Slowly decrease your level of effort over five minutes.
  • Finish your cool down below 11 (fairly light).
  • Stop exercising and take five to 10 minutes to stretch your muscles.
  • Look at S-PEP's Stretch Your Muscles (pdf) and the Pocket Cards (pdf) for the best muscle stretches for you.
  • Drink plenty of water.

What type of workout should I do?


Find workouts that you like and to which you have access. Below are some suggestions:

What safeguards should I take when exercising?

  • Always be careful when you exercise to prevent injury and falls.
  • Look at S-PEP's Exercise Safeguards for details.