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Exercise Levels and Stroke Risk in Women

According to the National Stroke Association, 425,000 women in the United States suffer a stroke each year. To ward off potential stroke risk, many experts encourage women to exercise regularly. But how much exercise is enough to minimize the possibility of experiencing a stroke? The answer may surprise you.

According to researchers from the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope in Duarte, California, moderate-intensity exercise—such as a brisk walk— can cut stroke risk by 20%.

The research, presented at the American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference 2014, looked at stroke incidence and physical activity levels in 133,749 women from 1996 to 2010. The women with reduced risk had participated in moderate-intensity physical activity for at least 3 years prior to study participation.

“I was surprised that moderate physical activity was most strongly associated with a reduced risk of stroke,” said lead study author Sophia Wang, PhD, in a press release. “More strenuous activity such as running didn’t further reduce women’s stroke risk. Moderate activity such as brisk walking appeared to be ideal in this scenario.”

The researchers also found that exercise mitigated stroke danger among postmenopausal women taking hormone therapy. According to the study, this group has a 30% higher risk of having a stroke than women who have not used hormone therapy.

“The effects of physical activity and hormone therapy appear immediate and the benefits of physical activity are consistent in premenopausal and postmenopausal women,” Wang said. “You don’t have to do an extreme boot camp. The types of activities we’re talking about are accessible to most of the population.”

To read the study abstract, go to http://newsroom.heart.org/news/moderate-exercise-cuts-womens-stroke-risk-helps-off-set-increase-risk-from-hormone-therapy.

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