| Article Summary:
Many of you know someone whose life has been permanently altered by a stroke. And, a stroke doesn't just affect the person who suffered from it.
It also affects the lives of those around them - their loved ones who end up taking care of them and helping them with normal daily tasks that are now too difficult for them to perform on their own.
A stroke is the rapidly developing loss of brain function(s) due to disturbance in the blood supply to the brain. This can be due to ischemia (lack of blood supply) caused by thrombosis or embolism or due to a hemorrhage.
As a result, the affected area of the brain is unable to function, leading to inability to move one or more limbs on one side of the body, inability to understand or formulate speech, or inability to see one side of the visual field.
What Is A Stroke?
A stroke occurs when the blood flow to your brain is temporarily blocked by a blood clot (plaque buildup also plays a role decreasing the diameter of an artery).
Without oxygen, even for a few moments, brain cells begin to die leading to brain damage. This may result in impaired speech, movement, memory and paralyzation on one side. There are two types of stroke:
- Ischemic Stroke: Arteries are blocked by blood clots and/or plaque buildup. This is the most common type of stroke.
- Hemorrhagic Stroke: A blood vessel in the brain bursts leaking blood into the brain.
There are many modifiable risk factors for stroke. The few factors out of your control are:
- Age (over 55)
- African American
- Family history of stroke
How Bodybuilding Can Decrease Your Risk For A Stroke
Though stroke can happen to anyone, bodybuilding can dramatically decrease your risk for stroke:
- Bodybuilders Don't Smoke. Smoking doubles your risk of having a stroke. But as a bodybuilder, you don't smoke or you are quitting. Anyone who has challenged their body will find out quickly enough that smoking hampers your ability to push your physical limits to the max. That's a good thing. Its your body's way of saying that health and physique improvements will come only when you put down those little cancer sticks.
- Bodybuilders Don't Drink Alcohol In Excess. Alcohol is a depressant that leads to the late night munchies and weight gain. And, it can interact with other drugs you are taking. If you don't drink, don't start. When your peers tempt you, you have a great excuse - you wouldn't dare wreck those ripped abs for a temporary buzz.
Click Image To Enlarge.
Alcohol Is A Depressant That Leads To
Weight Gain, Which Can Lead To A Stroke.
- Bodybuilding Helps You Manage Your Weight. Overweight and obesity increase your risk for stroke. However, bodybuilding is one of the best ways to manage your weight. Not only are you burning calories while you are exercising, but you are also building very metabolically active muscle tissue that will help you burn more calories at rest.
- Bodybuilders Exercise. Exercise reduces your risk for a stroke. If you have a goal in mind - ripped abs, completing your first 10K or bodybuilding competition, you are more likely to stick with your exercise routine. Sticking with it will increase your chances of success and help you prevent a plethora of diseases in the process, including stroke.
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- Bodybuilders Eat A Healthy Diet. Bodybuilding will voluntarily or involuntarily lead you toward a healthier diet. Bodybuilders are notorious for educating themselves about nutrition. And, you'll find that you start craving healthier food while thinking twice about the combo meals at your closest drive-through fast food joint.
An overall healthier, and less processed diet will help you cut down on your salt intake, which may help you lower your blood pressure. Not only will healthier food fuel you better for your workouts but it will lead you toward better health as well.
Additional Tips To Help You Prevent A Stroke
- Find out if you have atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation leads to blood collecting in your heart's chambers. Clots can form in this blood and cause a stroke.
| Atrial Fibrillation:
Atrial fibrillation (AF or afib) is the most common cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm) and involves the two upper chambers (atria) of the heart. Its name comes from the fibrillating (i.e. quivering) of the heart muscles of the atria, instead of a coordinated contraction.
It can often be identified by taking a pulse and observing that the heartbeats don't occur at regular intervals. However, a conclusive indication of AF is the absence of P waves on an electrocardiogram (ECG), which are normally present when there is a coordinated atrial contraction at the beginning of each heart beat. Risk increases with age, with 8% of people over 80 having AF.
- Stay on top of circulation problems. If you have issues with circulation in various parts of your body, talk to your physician.
- Know your cholesterol and work with your physician to keep it within normal limits.
- Know your blood pressure and see a physician if it is elevated. Also let your physician know about your exercise program. Lifting very heavy weights can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure. Your physician may instruct you to lift lighter weights with more repetitions until you get your blood pressure down.
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- Be sure not to hold your breath while lifting weights (forget the valsalva maneuver) and instead breathe continuously. Stop right away if you feel dizzy, lose your breath or experience any chest pain (or pain that has radiated to your neck, left arm etc).
- Keep your diabetes under control. If you are a diabetic, be sure to keep your blood sugar levels under control and see your endocrinologist regularly.
- Recognize the symptoms of stroke and act FAST!
Face: Ask the person to smile and notice if one side of the face droops.
Arm: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one drift? Numbness or weakness in the face, arm or leg (especially on one side of the body only).
Speech: Have the person speak a simple sentence. Is the speech slurred? Confusion, trouble speaking or understanding.
Time: Call 911 ASAP!
Trouble walking, dizziness or lack of balance
Bodybuilding can help you decrease the majority of modifiable risk factors associated with strokes. For those risk factors you need help controlling, see your physician regularly for treatment. And, when a stroke happens, get treatment fast to minimize damage.
About The Author:
Marie Spano is a leading authority on translating the latest nutrition and exercise science research into real life applications. Ms. Spano has also helped Olympic athletes, NFL-bound athletes and Fortune 500 executives enhance their health and performance through sound nutrition practices. She is a regular contributor to bodybuilding.com. For more information see:
- National Stroke Association. Stroke Facts.