Thursday, June 09, 2011

Exercise can help prevent silent stroke

Rresearchers at New York's Columbia University and Florida's University of Miami have published a study that included roughly 1,200 older people, most in their 60's, who had no history of stroke at enrollment. Each participant completed a questionnaire that included questions on how often and how intensely they exercised.

After six years, with the average range of participants now at age 70, the participants were given magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) brain scans. Approximately 16% of the participants (197 persons) had small lesions that were indicative of what are called silent strokes.

Those who had reported they engaged in moderate to intense exercise were found to be 40% less likely to have lesions than people that did not exercise. The difference remained the same even after researchers included other factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.

 Light exercise, defined as activities such as golf, walking, bowling and dancing, while having health benefits, did not seem to have any contributing factors in lowering the risk of silent strokes.

So, what is needed to help lower the risk of stroke? The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of intense activity. Moderate to intense activities include activities such as brisk walking, gardening, housework, swimming, jogging, hiking, biking or tennis. The important factor is to work with you healthcare professional to create a plan for you, based on your health needs and fitness level, that will help you meet the suggested activity level or work up to that level.

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