Older people who make an effort to keep fit are at a lower risk of experiencing a stroke, new findings indicate.
Research published online in journal Neurology revealed that keeping fit by swimming, playing squash or jogging combated 'silent strokes', which often go unnoticed.
The risk of silent stroke was seen to be reduced by 40 per cent in those who maintained a reasonable level of physical activity compared to those who took no regular exercise.
Participants provided details of levels of exercise at the beginning of the study and six years later underwent a brain scan to find any sign of silent strokes.
Professor Joshua Willey, of Columbia University, told WebMD: "I would not want these findings to discourage people from walking or performing other light exercise.
"But it may be that a certain level of exercise frequency and intensity is needed to lower silent stroke risk."
This follows comments from Maureen Mulvihill, of the Irish Heart Foundation, who said that people who have an inherited risk of heart disease could reduce their risk level by making lifestyle changes such as incorporating at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week into their routine.
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