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Even a Little Daily Exercise Cuts Your Stroke Risk
  • Posted March 7, 2024

Even a Little Daily Exercise Cuts Your Stroke Risk

Even a little physical activity can cut a person's stroke risk compared to being a complete couch potato, a new review shows.

Folks whose physical activity levels fell short of recommended guidelines still had a lower risk of stroke than those who got no exercise, researchers report.

Compared with no exercise, the highest “ideal” amount of physical activity cut stroke risk by 29%, researchers said.

However, even “below target” activity still reduced risk by 18%, results show.

“According to our results, all levels of leisure-time physical activity can be beneficial for stroke prevention, including levels currently regarded as low or insufficient,” said the team led by senior researcher Raffaele Ornello, a postdoctoral investigator of applied clinical sciences and Biotechnology at the University of L'Aquila in Italy.

“People should be encouraged to be physically active even at the lowest levels,” the researchers concluded.

For their paper, the team pooled the results of 15 previous studies on physical activity levels and stroke risk, involving more than 752,000 adults followed for more than a decade, on average.

Overall, moderate levels of physical activity that fell below recommended levels still cut stroke risk between 27% and 29%, when compared to no exercise, researchers found.

The effects were independent of sex or age, researchers said. Essentially, everyone can benefit from whatever physical activity they can manage in their spare time.

The new study was published March 5 in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

International guidelines recommend 150 minutes or more each week of moderate-intensity physical activity, or 75 minutes or more of vigorous activity, researchers said in background notes.

Examples of moderate-intensity activity include brisk walking, water aerobics, ballroom dancing, gardening, doubles tennis and casual bicycling, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

Vigorous-intensity activity includes running, swimming laps, jumping rope, fast cycling and heavy yard work shoveling or hoeing, the AHA says.

“Our results are in line with a key principle of the 2020 World Health Organization evidence-based recommendations for physical activity, that is, that some physical activity is better than none,” the researchers wrote in a journal news release.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about physical activity recommendations.

SOURCE: BMJ, news release, March 5, 2024

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