A “stroke” refers to the sudden death of brain cells within a specific area of the brain due to inadequate blood flow to those cells. Brain cells need a constant supply of oxygen to perform their functions and any condition that alters the blood flow to the brain can result in a stroke.
Exercise remains one of the very best ways to prevent or to treat the effects of a stroke. Regular physical activity has repeatedly been proven to have multiple cardiovascular benefits that could reduce both the frequency and severity of strokes in men and women.
Studies have found that being moderately to highly active during leisure time significantly reduces the risk of stroke later in life.1,2 Furthermore, researchers have shown that moderate and high-intensity exercise will reduce the risk of stroke by 64%.2 Walking, climbing stairs and participating in physical activities such as dancing, bicycling and gardening were shown to reduce the risk of a stroke.2A Danish study published in October 2008 found that patients who were physically active before a stroke attack had less severe strokes and a better chance of long-term recovery.3
The protective benefit of exercise in strokes is achieved through weight reduction, decrease in blood pressure, and a better blood sugar and cholesterol profile. Regular physical activity of only 30 minutes for 5 days a week has been shown to be sufficient to reduce the risk of a stroke to a significant extent.
- Wendel-Vos GC, Schuit AJ, Feskens EJ, Boshuizen HC, Verschuren WM, et al. Physical Activity and Stroke. A Meta-analysis of Observational Data. Int J Epidemiol. 2004; 33(4): 787–798.
- Lee CD, Folsom AR, Blair SN. Physical Activity and Stroke Risk: A Meta-analysis. Stroke. 2003; 34(10): 2475–2481.
- Krarup LH, Truelsen T, Gluud C, Andersen G, Zeng X, et al. Ex-stroke Pilot Trial Group. Prestroke Physical Activity Is Associated with Severity and Long-term Outcome from First-ever Stroke. Neurology. 2008; 71(17): 1313–1318.