Exercise Reduces Stroke Risk
It’s not exactly headline news, but a new study has confirmed one of the benefits of exercise: It helps prevent stroke. What’s new is the study looked at exercise habits and stroke risk among both African-American and white men and women in America, rather than studying just one specific group, such as older white men. Investigators at the University of Alabama at Birmingham believe their study is more reflective of the general population than previous studies, which have shown a protective benefit of regular exercise.
One third of the study’s participants were inactive. And they paid a price. Inactive people were 20% more likely to suffer a stroke during the study’s nearly six years of follow-up. People were classified as “vigorously active” if they exercised more than four times per week. Physical activity is a major modifiable risk factor for stroke, researchers point out. This fact should be emphasized more often during doctor visits, they say. One of the limitations of the study involved the self-reported nature of activity levels, and the lack of detail regarding types and intensities of physical activity.
But that does not diminish the importance of the findings. It adds to the growing list of studies that have demonstrated a significant association between physical activity and risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease. The old saying “move it or lose it” quite literally applies to your body and your health. If you want to live longer, while remaining healthier, exercise is crucial.
McDonnell M N, Hillier S L, Hooker S P, Le A, Howard V J. Physical Activity. Frequency and Risk of Incident Stroke in a National US Study of Blacks and Whites. Stroke, 2013