Walking for health

A regular brisk walk can keep stroke at bay, researchers find. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times / February 13, 2014)

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Get moving is the message for yet more evidence of health benefits. This time researchers found that women who took part in moderate exercise, such as walking briskly or playing tennis, resulted in a significant reduction in risk of having a stroke.

And the best bet is to get moving now.

“The benefits of reducing risk of stroke were further observed among the group of women who had a sustained moderate level of physical activity over time,” said Sophia Wang, the study’s lead author and a professor at the Beckman Research Institute at the City of Hope.

It’s hardly news that people of both genders who exercise are healthier than those who do not. And the National Stroke Assn. has long recommended activity as a way to ward off strokes. Not to mention all the many other benefits to mind and body.

The researchers in the current study presented their findings Thursday at the American Stroke Assn.’s international conference in San Diego.  (The American Stroke Assn., an offshoot of the American Heart Assn., is a separate organization from the National Stroke Assn.)

Wang and her colleagues analyzed information from the 133,479 women in the California Teachers Study, looking at those who had a stroke from 1996 through 2010. Those who said they were moderately active in the three years before enrolling in the study were 20% less likely to have a stroke than the women who reported no activity.

More strenuous activity, such as running, didn’t provide extra help, Wang said. “Moderate activity such as brisk walking appeared to be ideal in this scenario,” she said in a news release.

That moderate level of workout also partly offset the increased risk of stroke among post-menopausal women who took hormones.

Moderate activity includes golf, cycling on level streets, volleyball and recreational tennis. Strenuous activity includes swimming laps, aerobics, running, calisthenics, jogging, basketball, cycling on hills and racquetball.

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Mary.MacVean@latimes.com

Twitter: @mmacvean