A little exercise goes a long way in preventing stroke

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Staying active could be more beneficial than previously thought, especially when it comes to preventing strokes.

A recent analysis, which combined data from multiple studies, highlights that even a little bit of physical activity during leisure time can significantly lower the risk of stroke compared to not exercising at all.

This insight, published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, underscores the importance of moving more, regardless of how much.

The question of how much exercise is enough has always been on people’s minds, particularly with the guidelines suggesting at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week to cut down cardiovascular disease risk, including strokes.

However, it turns out that many adults find these targets hard to hit.

In an effort to understand if lesser amounts of exercise could still be protective, researchers sifted through various studies and combined the findings of 15 of them, encompassing 752,050 adults tracked over an average of 10.5 years.

These studies measured the impact of different levels of leisure time physical activity on the risk of stroke, ranging from none to ideal.

The analysis revealed some encouraging findings. Even exercising below the recommended levels can reduce stroke risk—by 18% for some activity versus none at all, with the ideal amount of activity slashing the risk by 29%.

This protective effect was consistent across different levels of exercise intensity, from moderate to intense, and did not depend on the participant’s age or sex.

Although the studies varied in how they defined activity levels and relied on participants’ own reports of their exercise habits, the message is clear: any amount of physical activity is better than none.

This research adds to the growing evidence that making time for exercise, even if it’s less than the recommended amount, can have substantial health benefits.

It’s a call to action for everyone to incorporate some form of physical activity into their leisure time, to protect against stroke and enhance overall health. The bottom line is simple: every bit of exercise counts.

If you care about stroke, please read studies about how to eat to prevent stroke, and diets high in flavonoids could help reduce stroke risk.

For more information about health, please see recent studies about how Mediterranean diet could protect your brain health, and wild blueberries can benefit your heart and brain.

The research findings can be found in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

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