Brisk walking is enough to lower stroke risk, study finds (w/VIDEO)

February 26, 2014 | by

When it comes to working out, harder and faster may not always be better. That's what Sophia Wang, Ph.D., associate professor at City of Hope's Department of Population Sciences, found about exercise and stroke risk when she looked into the connection between the two.

Examining data from more than 133,000 women in the California Teachers Study, Wang and her team found that participants who regularly exercise at a moderate level (which includes brisk walking, recreational tennis, golf and bicycling on flat surfaces) are 20 percent less likely to suffer a stroke than those who do not exercise at all. Additionally, moderate exercise offsets some of the increase in stroke risk caused by hormone replacement therapy.

Further, Wang found that women who engage in strenuous activity (such as jogging, bicycling on hills, basketball and aerobics) at the same frequency do not experience additional benefits against stroke compared to the moderate level group.

Wang presented these findings at the International Stroke Conference earlier this month in San Diego.

"I was surprised that moderate physical activity was most strongly associated with a reduced risk of stroke," Wang said in an American Heart Association press release about her study. "Moderate activity, such as brisk walking, appeared to be ideal in this scenario."

The media were surprised as well. Wang's findings received considerable news coverage.

Wang noted that activities involving moderate exercise is more accessible and approachable, particularly for people with sedentary lifestyles.

"It is really attainable. We are talking about [exercising] one to two hours a week," Wang said in the video above, further emphasizing that "you don't have to do an extreme boot camp" to ward off stroke risk.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute currently recommends that adults engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week to maintain good health, but noted that even 60 minutes a week will result in health benefits for those who are inactive.

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