Stroke Prevention Exercise Program (S-PEP) Water Workout

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 water workout below was created by the S-PEP team for your use in a pool or other safe body of water.


Man and woman in a swimming poolShallow Water (waist- or chest-deep)

  • Brisk water walking
    • Forward-and-backward
    • Side-to-side
  • Water marching
    • Forward-and-backward
    • Side-to-side
  • Water running and skipping
  • Stair-stepping on a pool step (hold onto the side or rail)
    • Forward-and-backward
    • Side-to-side

Deep Water (over your head)

  • Treading water with arms and legs
  • Treading water with arms only
  • Water "running" while using an AquaJogger
  • Kicking your legs or "peddling" a bike while floating on a water noodle

Lap Swimming

  • Make sure you still are able to do the strokes correctly
  • It can be helpful to take a class
  • ask a lifeguard to watch you anytime you get tired

Water Workout Tips

  • Combine the shallow and deep water exercises to create your own water workout
  • If breathing becomes too hard, move to shallow water (waist deep)
  • Use extra caution
    • The resistance of water boosts your workload and may tire you out faster
    • Alert a lifeguard or a swim partner when you are in the water
    • Stay in an area of the pool in which you can keep yourself upright easily
    • Only exercise in deep water if you have experience, are confident in your abilities, and can breathe easily during exercise 

Note: Your goal range of effort is 13-14 (somewhat hard) on the Borg Scale. Review Signs of Exercising Too Hard and Exercise Safeguards before all workouts.