How to Prevent Stroke in Women?…Walking

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If you are a woman and will like to reduce your risk of stroke, you might like to walk at least 2 hours a week, especially at a brisk pace.

According the long-term follow-up of the Women’s Health Study (WHS) that involved 39,315 healthy US women 45 years and older and followed up for 12 years, women who walked 2 hours or more per week had a 30% lower risk for any stroke than women who did not walk.  Furthermore, women who walked at a brisk pace (>4.8 km/hour) had a 37% lower risk for any stroke than women who did not walk.

At baseline, women were asked to estimate the average time spent on 8 groups of recreational activities during the past year: walking or hiking; jogging; running; bicycling; aerobic exercise; aerobic dance; use of exercise machines; tennis, squash, or racquetball; lap swimming; and lower-intensity exercise, including yoga.  They were also asked about their walking pace.

The patients were stratified into different groups: those who do not walk regularly and those who walk at a pace of less than 3.2 km/hour, 3.2 to 4.7 km/hour (considered to be an average pace), 4.8 to 6.3 km/hour (considered to be brisk pace), or 6.4 or more km/hour (a striding pace).

After a follow-up of 13 years, the investigators found an inverse relationship between the amount of time spent walking and decrease in stroke.

Table 1. Stroke Risk According to Time Spent Walking at Baseline and at 3 Years of Follow-Up

Time spent walking at baseline/at 3 years (hours per week) <2/<2 <2/≥2 ≥2/<2 ≥2/≥2
Total stroke, No. of cases 117 29 26 31
Ischemic stroke, No. of cases 98 28 19 26
Hemorrhagic stroke, No. of cases 19 1 7 5

The WHS was supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health.

Stroke. Published online April 6, 2010.

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