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Vigorous Exercise Cuts Stroke Risk for Older Men, Not Women

New research examined over 3,000 men and women, average age 69, who were followed for about nine years.  During that time, there were 238 strokes among the participants. At the start of the study, 20 percent of the participants said they did regular moderate-to-high intensity exercise such as jogging, swimming or tennis.  Some 41 percent said they did no physical activity. 

Men who did moderate-to-high intensity exercise were 63 percent less likely to have a stroke than people who didn’t exercise. Over five years, the baseline risk of ischemic stroke which is the leading type of stroke for all study participants was 4.3 percent; 2.7 percent for those who did moderate-to-high intensity exercise and 4.6 percent for those who didn’t exercise. 

The study conducted by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center and New York Presbyterian Hospital at Columbia appears in the Nov. 24 issue of the journal Neurology.  Taking part in moderate-to-heavy intensity physical activity may be an important factor for preventing stroke, noted the study’s author. 

A large percentage of the participants were not taking part in any physical activities. This may be true of many elderly people who live in cities. Identifying ways to improve physical activity among these people may be a key goal for public health.

Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the United States and the third leading cause of death according to the American Association for Critical Illness Insurance, the national trade organization.  This year some 600,000 Americans will suffer their first stroke.

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