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Physical Health, Exercise and Stroke Risk


Updated December 23, 2007

Your physical health greatly affects your stroke risk. People between the ages of 40 to 79 who can do basic physical tasks may have half the risk of stroke as those who cannot. This is after other health conditions are taken into account (according to a study published in Neurology).

How to Improve Physical Functioning

First off, you'll need to start exercising. Your current health status will determine your starting point. After getting cleared by your doctor, find yourself a qualified personal trainer who can help design a program for you. If you can't afford a trainer, find a relative, friend or family member who can help make sure you are doing the exercises correctly.

Then you have to do it. You should have some form of physical activity every day with focused cardio, strength, flexibility and balance weekly. Some great starting points include walking, biking and group classes like yoga. See below for more detail on the study:

Physical Health and Stroke Risk

The study looked at data from 13,615 men and women in the UK from 1993 to 1997 and followed them for 18 months. Over that time, 244 strokes were reported from the group. Using a well-established survey, researchers asked each participant about his physical health. The better a person did on the physical health questions, the less his risk of stroke.

Researchers are not sure the exact way that physical health impacts stroke risk. The researchers believe that poor physical functioning might be a sign of another health condition such as chronic inflammation which could increase stroke risk. They suggest using physical health surveys to help determine who is in need of stroke prevention.


P. K. Myint, MRCP, P. G. Surtees, PhD, N.W.J. Wainwright, PhD, R. N. Luben, BSc, A. A. Welch, PhD, S. A. Bingham, PhD, N. J. Wareham, PhD, FRCP and K.-T Khaw, FRCP. Physical health-related quality of life predicts stroke in the EPIC-Norfolk. NEUROLOGY 2007;69:2243-2248.

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