This article originally appeared on Live in the Now.
It’s no secret that lack of exercise, coupled with a largely processed food diet, leads to potentially deadly diseases including cancer, dementia, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and stroke. But all of these conditions — and one in particular — may be preventable by just taking a brisk walk a few times a week.
Researchers from Spain have published the result of a study in the journal Stroke that has determined walking at least three hours a week reduces the risk of stroke among women by nearly half. The study team set out to assess the association between regular physical activity and cerebrovascular diseases, defined as conditions that develop as a result of problems with the blood vessels inside the brain such as stroke.
To conduct the study, scientists developed a cohort consisting of 13,576 men and 19,416 women, ranging in age from 29 to 69, who were part of the European Cancer Project, which was initiated during the mid-1990s. Participants responded to a physical activity questionnaire and were divided by gender, type of physical activity and how much time they had spent on the physical activity.
After a 12 year follow-up period, 442 stroke cases were recorded and subsequently classified as 80 percent ischemic, 10 percent hemorrhagic, 7 percent subarachnoid hemorrhage and 3 percent unspecified. Interestingly, the researchers determined that physical activity was associated with a stroke reduction risk for women but not men. Women who walked at least 210 minutes (3 ½ hours) a week showed a reduced risk for stroke of 43 percent compared to those who did not participate in physical activity.
The team also revealed that other types of exercise, regardless of intensity, had no significant association in stroke risk reduction. The study authors concluded that “though the exact relationship among different types of physical activity and different stroke subtypes remains unclear, the results of this specific study indicate that walking, in particular, is associated with lower risk of stroke.” Walking briskly for 30 minutes on most days of the week is not only a perfect complement to weight management strategies, but also dramatically lowers the risk of a devastating stroke in women.