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Physical Activity Protects Against Ischemic Stoke

Posted by bmagnus On November - 27 - 2009

A study published in this week’s issue of the journal Neurology shows not only that physical activity can reduce the risk of stroke in the elderly, but that the intensity of the exercise does matter. Furthermore, the protection goes beyond the impact that exercise would have on patients’ diabetes, cholesterol levels, and blood pressure levels! (Here’s a no registration required version of the story).

Researchers concluded “We believe that maintaining and even initiating moderate- to heavy-intensity activity, such as racket sports and swimming, is an important component of risk reduction strategies against ischemic stroke.” It’s not enough to take a leisurely walk, however enjoyable that activity may be. You may notice that the titles of those articles use the term “high-impact”, they are not talking about jumping around and needing shock-absorbing shoes; they are talking about cardio-respiratory impact — the effect of exercise on the heart and lungs.

One alarming thing researchers found is that 40.5% of the 3000 people in the test group were sedentary. Granted, the average age of participants was 69, so it is possible that some percentage of them had disabilities that prevented regular physical activity. Nevertheless, since it is well established that sedentary lifestyles often lead to health problems, this can’t mean good things for the future health of our nation.

Sure, reducing salt intake can reduce stroke risk too, but regular vigorous exercise reduces stroke risk and has lots of other benefits as well.

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