Regular walking significantly reduces stroke risk in women, researchers say.
In a new study that looked at data from 39 315 US female health professionals, average age 54, participating in the Women's Health Study, 473 of the women had an ischaemic (clot-related) stroke and 102 had a haemorrhagic (bleeding) stroke during 11.9 years of follow-up.
Those who were most active in their leisure time were 17% less likely to have any type of stroke than those who were least active.
The study, published in the journal Stroke, focused on comparing women who walked regularly to those who didn't walk, and found:
Those who usually walked at a brisk pace were 37% less likely to have any type of stroke and had a 68% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke.
Those who walked two or more hours a week had a 30% lower risk of any type of stroke and a 57% lower risk of haemorrhagic stroke.
Women who usually walked at a brisk pace were about 25% less likely to suffer an ischaemic stroke, and those who walked more than two hours a week were less likely to have an ischaemic stroke.
"Physical activity, including regular walking, is an important modifiable behaviour for stroke prevention," lead author Jacob R. Sattelmair, a doctoral candidate in epidemiology at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, said in a news release from the American Heart Association. "Physical activity is essential to promoting cardiovascular health and reducing risk of cardiovascular disease, and walking is one way of achieving physical activity."
Previous studies have found that active people are 25% to 30% less likely to have a stroke than inactive people.
"Though the exact relationship among different types of physical activity and different stroke subtypes remains unclear, the results of this specific study indicate that walking, in particular, is associated with lower risk of stroke," Sattelmair said.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity, or 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity, aerobic activity, according to the American Heart Association. - (HealthDay News, April 2010)