The Best Exercises for Post-Polio Patients

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Post-polio syndrome occurs years after a patient has been affected by the polio virus. Common symptoms of this condition include muscle weakness, tiredness and muscle atrophy. Symptoms may worsen if you do not use the muscles affected by post-polio syndrome. However, any exercise you do must be carefully monitored by your physician.

Cardio Exercise

According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, cardio training is typically more often recommended to post-polio patients over resistance training exercises. Heavy lifting is not advised since over training may further weaken the muscles rather than strengthen them. The ideal cardio exercise for post-polio patients is swimming since you are not putting any stress on the muscles and joints.

Range of Motion Exercises

Range of motion exercise can help polio survivors maintain function and have the ability to comfortably move the joints to complete activities like walking. The National Center on Physical Activity and Disability recommends an exercise called the Breathing Tree. To begin, stand with your arms at your sides and your legs hip-width apart. As you inhale, bring your hands over your heads and then back down as you exhale. Repeat this motion several times. Proceed to lift your hands to shoulder height and turn your head to the side. Twist at the waist to move your body in the same direction as your head. Repeat the move on the other side of your body.


Yoga is a recommended form of exercise by the Post-Polio Health International organization. Benefits of yoga include better balance, improved flexibility and a reduction in pain symptoms. If you are taking a class, take a gentle or beginner’s class that has you do a mix of stretching, deep breathing and meditation exercises. In the class, you should have access to a chair or wall for support during the moves if you need it.


You’ll need to listen to your body while participating in any form of exercise when suffering from post-polio syndrome. Stop if you feel overly tired or your muscle weakness symptoms worsen. If you feel any pain or it takes you a long time to recover after exercise, discontinue your workouts until you speak to your doctor.