Low intensity exercise linked to less severe strokes

Health magazine

WASHINGTON — Walking for at least 35 minutes a day may lead to less severe strokes, a study published on Wednesday in the journal Neurology showed.

“While exercise benefits health in many ways, our research suggests that even simply getting in a small amount of physical activity each week may have a big impact later by possibly reducing the severity of a stroke,” said the study author Katharina S. Sunnerhagen with the University of Gothenburg in Sweden.

The researchers looked at two Swedish stroke registries and identified 925 people with an average age of 73 who had a stroke, while 80 percent of them had a mild stroke.

Participants were asked after the stroke how much they moved or exercised during leisure time before the stroke. Questions about duration and intensity of exercise were used to determine the average amount of physical activity.

Light physical activity was defined as walking at least four hours a week. Moderate physical activity was defined as more intense exercise such as swimming, brisk walking, or running two to three hours a week.

Among the participants, 52 percent said they were physically inactive before having their stroke.

Researchers found that people who engaged in light to moderate physical activity before their stroke were twice as likely to have a mild stroke rather than a moderate or severe stroke, when compared to people who were physically inactive.

Of the 481 people who were physically inactive, 354 had mild stroke, or 73 percent. Of 384 who engaged in light physical activity, 330 had mild stroke, or 85 percent. Of 59 people who engaged in moderate physical activity, 53 had mild stroke, or 89 percent.

“There is a growing body of evidence that physical activity may have a protective effect on the brain and our research adds to that evidence,” said Sunnerhagen. (Xinhuanet)