How 86-year-old Joyce learnt to swim after a stroke

After suffering a debilitating stroke Joyce thought she would never be able to climb stairs again, until she met John and his team who helped her get her life back.

For a livewire like 86-year-old Joyce, suffering a debilitating stroke was devastating. Left with limited mobility in one arm and forced to use an assisted walker, she felt very isolated.

After some time, a friend recommended Joyce join the nearest Nuffield Health gym. She agreed, relishing the chance to get back into the world.

She also had another motive. Due to go to a relative's wedding, Joyce knew that without being able to climb the venue's stairs she wouldn't be able to attend. So her goal was to get back enough strength in her legs to climb stairs unassisted.

Staff at Nuffield Health Chesterfield were delighted to welcome Joyce. "She's such a character and our club really wouldn't be the same without her," says the club's General Manager, John.

John and his team worked closely with Joyce every step of the way. With some adaptations she was able to use the bike, rowing machine and treadmill and even participate in group yoga classes.

But Joyce was so determined to meet her goal that she did something extraordinary. Advised that swimming was one of the best low impact exercises for strengthening muscles, Joyce took to the pool for the first time at age 86. With help from the Chesterfield team she learnt to swim.

"It is very easy when you have a stroke to think that you just can't do anything," says Joyce. "I've had to learn to use my muscles again and it took a lot of guts, but it couldn't be more worth it."

Joyce's grit, combined with exercise three times a week, was duly rewarded with her small victory. Joyce made it to the family wedding and was delighted to be able to climb the stairs again.

Getting back into society has given Joyce a new lease on life. "I'm so happy now, I've made friends and I have my life back," she says. Her aim now is to continue working with her friends at Nuffield Health Chesterfield to keep improving her mobility and maintain her lean weight.

Last updated Tuesday 7 January 2020

First published on Tuesday 26 May 2015