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Stroke Health Center

For Women, a Walk a Day Keeps Stroke Away

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Hu says women who have not been very active recently should start by walking for 10 to 20 minutes a day, several times a week and gradually increase the intensity and duration. Walking five or six days a week for about 30 minutes is ideal, but he says that women who walk less are still less likely to have a stroke than women who don't exercise at all. And walking more than 30 minutes on one or two days a week, coupled with 10- or 15-minute walks on other days, may be another way for busy women to fit exercise into their day.

Several previous investigations, including a government-sponsored panel of experts and a report from the surgeon general, concluded that there wasn't enough good data to show that exercise plays a role in preventing stroke. But an expert who reviewed the new study for WebMD says this study adds to growing evidence that exercise is an important and "natural" way to prevent stroke.

Lewis B. Morgenstern, MD, says people who have been sedentary for years should talk to their doctor and build an exercise plan that will help them achieve the goals they want in a reasonable manner and time frame.

Morgenstern, who is assistant professor of neurology and epidemiology at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston, says while you can't say for sure that exercise has the same effect on stroke risk in men as it does in women, it's logical to assume that it would.

"The jury is probably still out on that one," he tells WebMD. "But anything that is going to lower blood pressure and lower 'bad' cholesterol and raise 'good' cholesterol is going to be good for any person. It's likely [the results] are just as robust in men, it just hasn't been studied well enough."

Vital Information:

  • A new study shows that women who walk briskly for 30 minutes each day can lower their risk of stroke.
  • Even women who have been active throughout their lives, but begin exercising in middle-age or retirement years, can reduce their risk of stroke.
  • One expert recommends that inactive women should start an exercise program with 10 to 20 minutes of walking several days a week, and gradually increase intensity and time.
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