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Real-World Fitness May Cut Stroke Risk

Odds May Be in Your Favor if You Can Climb Stairs, Carry Groceries
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Dec. 10, 2007 -- Maybe you're not in tip-top shape. But even a humble level of physical fitness may help you avoid a stroke.

New research shows that men and women over 40 who can climb stairs, carry groceries, kneel, bend, and lift may be 50% less likely to suffer a stroke than those who can't do those things.

That news, published in Neurology, comes from a study of some 13,600 adults in the U.K.

The study started in 1993. Back then, participants were 40-79 years old; none had a history of stroke, heart attack, or cancer.

Participants got their height, weight, and blood pressure checked. They also reported their history of smoking and later rated their ability to climb stairs, carry groceries, bend, kneel, and lift.

The study ended in 2005. By then, the group had had 244 strokes.

Men and women in the top 25% of ratings for functional fitness (carrying groceries, climbing stairs, etc.) were half as likely to have a stroke as those in the bottom 25% of functional fitness scores.

Other stroke risk factors didn't change the results. Still, the study doesn't prove cause and effect, since the researchers didn't assign anyone to practice hoisting groceries or other daily chores to build strength.

Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, and colleagues report their findings in tomorrow's edition of Neurology. Myint works at England's University of Cambridge.

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