Exercising with a neurological condition – Patient Information Leaflet

Information about the importance of exercising with a neurological condition, the benefits, recommended amount of exercise and precautions.

This leaflet may not be reproduced in whole or in part, without the permission of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

  • Introduction

    There are now an estimated 16.5 million neurological cases, equating to at least 1 in 6 people living with one or more neurological condition(s) (The Neurological Alliance,2019)

  • Why should I exercise?

    • Reduce risk of heart disease, stroke and type II diabetes.
    • Better health, mood and energy.
    • Reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression
    • Improve sleep.
    • Improve confidence and self esteem
    • More social opportunities.
    • Reach and maintain a healthy weight.

  • What are the neurological benefits?

    • Help nerve impulses travel faster to the brain.
    • Increase focus and ability to stay on task.
    • Increase blood flow to the brain.
    • Improve balance, strength, suppleness and mobility.
    • Increase body awareness.

  • How much exercise should I do?

    For adults (aged 19-64), moderate exercise should add up to a total of 150 minutes (or 2.5 hours) per week. This could be achieved through 5 x 30minutes or broken down into smaller 10 minute bouts. If exercising at a moderate intensity, you will still be able to talk but will be unable to sing a song.

    Alternatively, if carrying out vigorous exercise, the amount recommended is halved to around 75mins (or 1.25 hours) per week. If exercising at a vigorous intensity, you won’t be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

    Remember – You may have to start off with only 5 minutes of exercise and gradually build this up over a period of weeks and months (Department of Health).

  • What types of exercise can I do?


    Shopping – 39 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Yoga – 48 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Mowing the lawn – 57 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Cleaning the floor – 63 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Light static cycling – 91 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Climbing a flight of stairs -136 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Running (5mph) – 158 calories burned in 15 minutes
    Swimming breast stroke – 170 calories burned in 15 minutes

    Note – The amount of calories burned will vary depending on your weight, gender and intensity of exercise.

  • What precautions are there to exercising?

    Carrying out physical activities will come with precautions. These are some of the things that you should be aware of prior to, during and following your exercise.

    Pain – No exercise should cause you discomfort. If this occurs, stop the exercise and seek advice. However you may feel muscle soreness following exercise which can be normal.

    Fatigue – Some neurological conditions may cause you to suffer from fatigue. Consider this factor following your exercise. Pacing and structuring your exercise programme can help reduce fatigue, ask your physiotherapist for strategies.

    Medications – It is always best to check with your GP prior to exercising if you are taking any medications.

    Medical history – Exercise will alter your heart rate, blood pressure and other body systems. If you suffer from other medical conditions, it is advised that you check with your GP first.

    Dehydration – Exercise will make you thirsty, so it is essential that you take on enough fluids, as dehydration can make you feel unwell.

  • What are the next steps?

    You could try contacting one, or a few, of the following:
    • Local leisure centres to enquire about suitable facilities, classes and support.
    • GP for information on improving your fitness.
    • Search the internet for activities in your local area.
    • Speak to different support agencies for more information e.g. Headway, Stroke Association, MS Society etc
    • Speak to your physiotherapist.
    • Incorporate more activity into your daily routine.
    • Speak to your family and get them involved too.
    • Consider use of Apps to assist with exercise or activity ideas.

    For more information on the benefits of exercise, please refer to ‘Physical Activity and Mental Health Factsheet’ found in the Knowledge Centre at Walkergate Park.

  • References

    • www.dh.gov.uk
    • www.gov.uk
    • www.bhf.org.uk
    • www.nhs.uk
    • www.csp.org.uk
    • www.thecalculator.co.uk
    • www.neural.org.uk

  • What if I have a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint about the service?

    If you want to make a comment, suggestion, compliment or complaint you can:
    • talk to the people directly involved in your care
    • ask a member of staff for a feedback form, or complete a form on the Trust website www.cntw.nhs.uk (click on the ‘Contact Us’ tab)
    • telephone the Complaints Department 0191 245 6672
    • email [email protected] Please note that information sent to the Trust via email is sent at your own risk
    • We are always looking at ways to improve services. Your feedback allows us to monitor the quality of our services and act upon issues that you bring to our attention.
    You can provide feedback in the following ways:
    – the quickest way for you to do this is to complete our short online survey at
    – complete a Points of You survey, available from staff.

  • Information about content, other formats and version control

    Further information about the content, reference sources or production of this leaflet can be obtained from the Patient Information Centre. If you would like to tell us what you think about this leaflet please get in touch.

    This information can be made available in a range of formats on request (eg Braille, audio, larger print, easy read, BSL or other languages). Please contact the Patient Information Centre Tel: 0191 246 7288

    Published by the Patient Information Centre
    2021 Copyright, Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
    Ref, PIC/658/1121 November 2021 V4
    www.cntw.nhs.uk Tel: 0191 246 7288
    Review date 2024