More Evidence Links Exercise to Lower Stroke Risk

September 7, 2017
By Lisa Rapaport

Women who consistently get the minimum recommended amount of exercise for a healthy heart may be less likely to have a stroke than their counterparts whose exercise habits shift over time, a recent U.S. study suggests.

Researchers examined data on more than 61,000 women in the California Teachers Study who reported their exercise habits at two points in time, once from 1995 to 1996 and again from 2005 to 2006. The women were current and retired teachers when the study began.

Overall, 987 women had a stroke by the end of the study period.

But the women who got at least 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise at both points in time were 30 percent less likely to have what’s known as an ischemic stroke, the most common kind, which occurs when a clot blocks an artery carrying blood to the brain.

"How people exercise changes over time and some individuals exercise when they are a young adult but do not keep it up when they are older," said lead study author Dr. Joshua Willey of Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

"In our study, we found that maintaining exercise levels was protective against stroke, and that taking up exercise when not being active while younger was also protective," Willey said by email. "Similarly, those who no longer exercised on the follow up assessment did not have a lower risk of stroke." [read more]