Intense exercises such as running, boot camp classes and high-impact aerobics may burn a lot of calories, but when it comes to cutting the risk for stroke among women, moderate physical activity may be all that’s needed.
Researchers say activities such as brisk walking and playing tennis – moderate physical activities – can lower a woman’s stroke risk and help offset the increased risk of stroke that comes with hormone therapy.
“I was surprised that moderate physical activity was most strongly associated with a reduced risk of stroke,” said Sophia Wang, the study’s lead author, in a news release from the American Heart Association. “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.”
Wang presented the study at this year’s American Stroke Association’s International Stroke Conference.
After analyzing health records of more than 130,000 women, researchers found that those who said they exercised in the three years before the study were 20 percent less likely to suffer a stroke compared to women who did not work out at all.
“The benefits of reducing risk of stroke were further observed among the group of women who had a sustained moderate level of physical activity over time,” Wang said.
The study also found that postmenopausal women who were taking hormone therapy had more than a 30 percent higher risk of stroke. But once the women stopped taking hormones, their risk began to decrease.
“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. Therefore, Wang recommends that women incorporate some type of physical activity into their daily routine. “You don’t have to do an extreme boot camp,” she said. You also don’t have to belong to a gym. “The types of activities we’re talking about are accessible to most of the population.”
Source: American Heart Association news release
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