Stroke Prevention Exercise Program (S-PEP) Frequently Asked Questions

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.


S-PEP: Stroke Prevention Exercise ProgramThe following are common questions about exercising after stroke.
What if I do not like to exercise?
Some people feel awkward exercising or feel they are not good at it.
  • Start slowly and set realistic goals
  • Over time you will gain confidence and get in better shape
  • Look at S-PEP's Lifestyle Change Steps for simple guidance to help you successfully start and stick with an exercise program

Some people who exercise did not like it when they first started.

  • Once people begin to see the good results they get hooked
  • People also learn ways to make exercising more fun

Here are some ways to make exercising more fun:

  • Try many kinds of workouts and do those you enjoy
  • Exercise with a friend, partner or in a group
  • Exercise to music or while watching TV
  • Look at S-PEP's Exercise in Disguise for bringing exercise into your daily life

What if I never have time for exercise?


Break your workouts into shorter segments that fit better into your day. Instead of one 30-minute brisk walk, take:

  • A 15-minute brisk walk and a 15-minute bike ride later in the day
  • A 10-minute brisk walk, a 10-minute bike ride to the pool, and 10 minutes of water walking while at the pool
  • Any mix of workouts is fine

More hints:

  • Try a few times and days to find what works best for you
  • Create a daily or weekly routine
    • Work out at the same time each day
    • Schedule your workouts on your calendar
  • Sneak exercise into your daily life. Look at S-PEP's Exercise in Disguise for details.

What if I am too tired?


Your body is still recovering during the first few weeks after your stroke:

  • It is common to be more tired during this time
  • This fatigue often goes away after a few weeks

Your energy level changes during the day:

  • Be aware of how your energy rises and falls on a normal day
  • Exercise when you have the most energy

Over time, regular exercise can:

  • Increase your energy level during the day
  • Help you sleep better at night
  • Decrease feelings of depression

What if I do not have access to a gym or equipment?

  • Many workouts like walking can be done with little or no equipment
  • You also may try a home workout and use household items to make your workout harder (see S-PEP's Home Workout)
  • You may try a home workout with an exercise video (see S-PEP's Exercise Videos)
  • Keep in mind that you can also get exercise from the things you already do each day (see S-PEP's Exercise in Disguise)

Is it safe? Will I have another stroke?

  • Your doctor will tell you if it is safe to begin or resume a moderate effort exercise program
  • Regular exercise can decrease your risk factors for stroke and heart attack, including obesity, high blood pressure and high cholesterol
  • Over time, regular exercise may decrease your chances of having another stroke or heart attack
  • The normal feelings of your heart rate and breathing speeding up during a workout can cause unease if you are not used to them, but these feelings are normal and should not cause concern
  • Start with realistic goals and follow S-PEP's Exercise Guidelines when progressing your exercise

Will I fall?

  • Falls after stroke are not very common when people are careful
  • Follow S-PEP's Exercise Safeguards to prevent injury and falls
  • If you take the right safeguards, exercising is one of the best things you can do for your health after a stroke
  • Exercise can also help prevent falls by improving your balance
  • Always wear a helmet when riding a bike
Note: Review Signs of Exercising Too Hard and Exercise Safeguards before all workouts.