A Regular Exercise Routine Helped Dan Phelan Recover From a Stroke

By Robert Hood on July 16, 2018

Margot Hartford

Five years ago, at the age of 50, Dan Phelan was admitted to San Francisco General Hospital with a droopy face, paralyzed right arm, and a lack of balance. He had suffered a stroke.

“It was unexpected and frightening. My thoughts in the ambulance were all over the place but my concerns were most around if I would be able to speak again, work again, and support myself,” he said. “Luckily, I recovered quickly and the doctors attributed my recovery to being young and in good shape.”

Phelan works in software sales and relies on being verbally articulate to make his living. “Not being able to speak with my customers and prospects, getting to and from meetings, even being laid up for months to rehab would have been disastrous to my career.”

The doctors told Phelan they couldn’t determine the cause of his stroke but emphasized that his excellent physical health and the fact that he wasn’t a smoker aided in his recovery. “I learned that you can’t take your health for granted. You need to find some type of exercise you like and stick with it. It’s never too late or too early and it sure made a difference for me!”

Phelan’s exercise routine includes trips to the UC San Francisco Bakar Fitness & Recreation Center at Mission Bay at 5:30 in the morning three times a week for a swim. “It’s something I do and I enjoy,” he said. “It’s how I start my day. I sleep better, I’m more relaxed, and I get antsy and irritable if I’m not working out.”

Phelan occasionally takes advantage of the fitness center’s yoga classes and rents the paddle boards for a trip down Mission Creek but his primary goal is to maintain his health and energy by swimming. “I’m trying to ensure my health as I age so I can be active and enjoy retirement. Being able to swim regularly is part of that plan.”