Women who walk atleast three hours a week are less likely to suffer a stroke than women who walk less or not at all, a new research from Spain suggests. Noting that the message for the general population remains similar, lead author José María Huerta of the Murcia Regional Health Authority in Spain told Reuters Health that regularly engaging in moderate recreational activity is good for our health.
Strokes can be caused by built-up of plaque in arteries or ruptured blood vessels in the brain. Previous studies have also associated physical activity to fewer strokes. The current study supports the theory of potential relationships between specific kinds of exercise and risk for specific diseases. Walking briskly for 210 minutes or more every week lowered risk of stroke in women when compared to being inactive or cycling and doing other higher-intensity workouts for a shorter amount of time.
As part of a larger European cancer project, nearly 33,000 men and women answered a physical activity questionnaire given in the mid-1990s. For the study, participants were divided by gender, exercise type and total time spent exercising each week. During the 12-year follow-up period, they were checked in periodically to record any strokes. A total of 442 strokes were recorded among the men and women. Women who were regular walkers had a 43 percent reduction in stroke risk compared to the inactive group. However, exercise type or frequency had no effect on men.
Noting that they have no clear explanation for this, Huerta guessed that the men may have taken part in the study in better physical condition than the women, but there was no evidence to support that hypothesis. Most of the men and women in the study were blood donors, who are likely to be in good health in order to give blood. Dr. Wilson Cueva of the University of Chicago in Illinois said that he wouldn’t make much of the results because they were for a very specific population. Pointing out that the study depended on subjective measurements, like the participants’ memory of exercise routines, Cueva, who was not involved with the research said that there was no objective way to measure how much exercise the participants actually did.
At least 150 minutes of moderate exercise such as brisk walking each week is recommended in the guidelines set by the WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Urging health consumers to heed those guidelines for now, Cueva told that it was difficult to draw any conclusions by the way the Spanish study was designed, , but it’s known that exercise is related to reduced risk of stroke and other diseases.
The findings were published in the journal Stroke.