Brisk Walking Reduces Stroke Risk
Women Can Reduce Stroke Risk by Walking a Few Hours Per Week
April 6, 2010 -- Women who walk two or more hours per week or who walk at a
brisk pace can significantly reduce their risk of suffering a stroke, new
The findings are based on a study of the exercising habits of 39,315 female
health professionals whose average age was 54. It found that:
- Women who walked at a pace of 3 miles per hour or faster had a 37% lower
risk of suffering any type of stroke.
- Women who walked two or more hours a week had a 30% reduced risk of any
type of stroke.
“Physical activity, including regular walking, is an important modifiable
behavior for stroke prevention,” Jacob R. Sattelmair, MSc, of the Harvard
School of Public Health, says in a news release. “Physical activity is
essential to promoting cardiovascular health and reducing risk of
cardiovascular disease, and walking is one way of achieving physical
Previous research has indicated that people who are physically active
generally have a lower risk of stroke than those who are more sedentary.
Walking and Stroke Risk
Sattelmair and colleagues examined data from the Women’s Health Study.
Every few years, the participants reported their leisure-time physical
activity during the past year; specifically, how much time they spent walking;
jogging; running; biking; doing aerobic exercise or dance; using machines;
playing tennis, squash, or racquetball; swimming; doing yoga; and stretching
They also reported their usual walking pace if they walked for exercise.
- Casual walkers were those who strolled at a pace of 2 miles per hour.
- Normal walkers reported their pace at between 2 and 2.9 miles per
- Brisk walkers reported walking at a 3 to 3.9 mile per hour clip.
- Those who walked at 4 miles per hour were placed in a “very brisk”
During almost 12 years of follow-up, 579 women had suffered a stroke. The
women who were most active in their leisure time were 17 % less likely to
suffer any type of stroke than the least-active women.
Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the leading cause of adult
disability in the U.S., so it’s important to identify ways to prevent them,
Other risk factors for women include smoking, obesity, migraine headaches,
postmenopausal hormone use, and taking oral contraceptives.