Easy Exercise to Prevent Stroke

Stroke risk in women reduced through regular moderate exercise

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) There are many benefits to exercising regularly. Even moderate exercise like taking a walk or a slow jog may help save your life.

A recent study found that regular, moderate exercise reduced women's risk of stroke.

The researchers suggested that women add moderate exercise to their daily routine.

"Talk to your doctor about the benefits of daily exercise."

The lead author of this study was Sophia Wang, PhD, from the Department of Population Sciences at the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope in Duarte, California.

The study included data on 133,479 women who were enrolled in a previous study called the California Teacher's Study from 1996 to 2010. The majority of participants (87 percent) were white.

Data on obesity, hormone therapy, medical history and physical activity were obtained at baseline (start of the study) and in follow-up surveys.

A total of 3,126 participants had a stroke between 1996 and 2010.

The researchers found that the women who engaged in moderate physical activity for the three years immediately prior to enrollment had a 21 percent decreased risk of stroke compared to the women who did not engage in physical activity during the three years before enrollment.

Postmenopausal women who reported using hormone therapy had a 30 percent increased risk of stroke compared to the women who were not taking hormone therapy; however, this risk started to decrease after the women stopped taking hormones.

Moderate exercise lowered the risk of stroke in the women even more.

The findings also revealed that women with diabetes were at increased risk for stroke, but most of these women were overweight or obese, so the risk of stroke was not independently associated with diabetes.

“Physical activity, obesity and diabetes are all highly [associated] with one another,” said Dr. Wang. “Stroke prevention among diabetics is thus a particularly important scientific question to address.”

Dr. Wang believes that further studies are needed to determine how much moderate exercise helps those with diabetes avoid strokes.

"With inflammation at the root of so many diseases, including stroke, it's no wonder that moderate exercise which reduces inflammation also lowers the risk of having a stroke," said Rusty Gregory, a certified wellness coach and dailyRx Contributing Expert. "This inflammatory reducing effect of moderate exercise helps reduce blood clotting and artery blockage from plaque, therefore reducing the chances of an artery bursting or becoming occluded."

Dr. Wang and colleagues recommended that women incorporate some sort of physical activity into their daily routine.

This study was presented on February 13 at the American Stroke Association's International Stroke Conference 2014.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provided funding.

Review Date: 
February 7, 2014
Last Updated:
February 13, 2014