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Physical activity reduces risk of stroke

5th August 2005

High levels of physical activity can reduce the risk of stroke, according to a study from the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki.

The study, published in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association said people should participate in running, swimming, or heavy gardening during leisure time or walk up to 29 minutes a day to reduce the chance of stroke caused by a blood clot (ischemic stroke).

Researchers reviewed data on 47,721 people aged 25 to 64 years who did not have a history of coronary heart disease, stroke or cancer.

They completed questionnaires on smoking habits, alcohol consumption, socioeconomic factors, medical history, and physical activities during their leisure time, at work and while commuting.

During an average follow up of 19 years, 2, 863 strokes occurred.

Lead investigator Gang Hu said lower risk was associated with increased amounts of physical activity while commuting.

"Daily walking or cycling to and from work also reduces ischemic stroke risk and, therefore, should be recommended to all people," Hu said.

Compared to people with no activity while on their way to and from work, the risk of total stroke was eight per cent lower for those who were physically active for one to 29 minutes commuting each day.