Thursday, June 9, 2011

Exercise and Strokes

Hooray! We have yet ANOTHER great reason to exercise. The journal Neurology has published a study this week that showed older people (mean age 70) who participate in moderate to intense levels of exercise have nearly HALF the risk of silent stroke compared with their less active peers. This study looked at 1200 adults with no clinical signs of stroke. The participants had brain MRI scans, and nearly 200 of them had evidence of a silent stroke. All the study patients were interviewed about their regular activities, from golf to hiking or other vigorous exercise. In fairness, 43% who had normal brain studies did no regular exercise at all. However, it is impressive that those people who regularly had significant aerobic activity had a 40% DECREASED RISK of silent stroke- even when this risk factor was isolated from other risks such as high blood pressure or cholesterol.

Exercise has so many benefits- from improving our mood, to increasing energy, to decreasing stroke risk. And it's never too late to START exercising! The more "out of shape" you are, the more important it is for your overall health to get moving. Simply "start low, and go slow" to avoid injury. In practical terms, I'd suggest starting with WALKING and consider getting a PEDOMETER (grab a pedometer app on your iPhone and get started counting steps right now!)

BOTTOM LINE: Exercise benefits include decreasing your risk of silent stroke, so if you value your brain cells, get moving!

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