Older men may reduce their
risk of stroke by taking a daily walk, and that walk doesn't have to be
especially brisk, British researchers report.
The new study suggests that
walking for an hour or two might lower the risk of stroke by as much as
one-third, and walking three hours or more daily might cut the risk by
"Stroke is a major
cause of death and disability and it is important to find ways to prevent
stroke, especially in older people who are at high risk," said lead
researcher Barbara Jefferis, a senior research associate in the department of
primary care and population health at University College London.
This study suggests that
maintaining an active lifestyle, specifically by walking, could prevent stroke
in older adults, she said.
"Getting into the
habit of walking every day for at least an hour could protect against stroke,"
Jefferis said. "Walking could be for transport, such as doing errands and
going to the shops, walking around indoors as well as walking for leisure, such
as walking in a park."
Moreover, it doesn't seem
to matter how fast a man walks. Just walking does the trick, regardless of
pace, she said.
The report was published in
the online edition of the journal Stroke.
Dr Ralph Sacco, chairman of
neurology at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, said this is
yet another study that confirms the benefits of exercise in regard to stroke
Sacco said physical
activity in general, not just walking, is important in reducing stroke risk for
both men and women.
"All forms of physical
activity, including walking, can promote ideal [heart] health and reduce stroke
risk," he said.
Study author Jefferis also
spoke out in favour of a variety of activities.
"We know that physical
activity has benefits for a wide range of mental and physical health
outcomes," she said. "Aiming for 150 minutes per week of moderate
physical activity, which includes walking at a brisk pace or light gardening,
or 75 minutes per week of vigorous activities, such as jogging or tennis...
would protect against heart disease and diabetes, as well as protecting against
Although the study found an
association between greater weekly walking time and lower stroke risk in men,
it did not establish a cause-and-effect relationship.
For the study, Jefferis's team
collected data on nearly 3 500 healthy men aged 60 to 80 who were taking part
in a larger heart study involving 24 British towns. The men were asked how far
they walked each week.
The researchers divided the
men into five groups: those who walked zero to three hours a week, four to
seven hours a week, eight to 14 hours a week, 15 to 21 hours a week and more
than 22 hours a week.
During the next 10 years,
men who walked eight to 14 hours a week cut their risk for stroke by about
one-third compared to men who walked zero to three hours a week, the
For men who walked more
than 22 hours a week, the risk for stroke dropped by about two-thirds, they
Among all the men, 42%
walked for more than eight hours a week and 9% walked more than 22 hours a
week, according to the report.
Men who walked zero to
three hours a week had strokes at a rate of 80 per 1 000 men over 10 years.
Meanwhile, those who walked eight to 14 hours a week had strokes at a rate of
55 per 1 000 men, the researchers said.
The benefit of walking was
seen regardless of how fast the men walked. "The protective effects of
spending more time walking on risk of stroke weren't explained by differences
in walking pace," Jefferis said.
To learn more about stroke,
visit the American
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