Keeping Fit in Midlife Lowers Stroke Risk

Keeping Fit in Midlife Lowers Stroke RiskKeeping Fit in Midlife Lowers Stroke Risk

A new study offers further evidence for the health benefits of exercise, after finding that adults who are physically fit in midlife are significantly less likely to have a stroke in later life.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of long-term disability and death in the United States.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year, more than 795,000 Americans have a stroke, and around 130,000 die as a result.

Regular physical activity is considered a key factor for stroke prevention; it can help maintain a healthy weight and lower blood pressure and cholesterol.

The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend that adults aged 18-64 get around 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity each week.

However, results from the 2014 National Health Interview Survey showed less than half of adults in the US meet these guidelines, reported.

First author Dr. Ambarish Pandey, of the Southwestern Medical Center at the University of Texas, and colleagues hope their latest findings - published in the journal Stroke - will encourage adults to increase their exercise levels.

“We all hear that exercise is good for you, but many people still don’t do it,” says Pandey. “Our hope is that this objective data on preventing a fatal disease, such as stroke, will help motivate people to get moving and get fit.”

For their study, the team analyzed 19,815 adults who were part of the 1970-2009 Cooper Center Longitudinal Study.

When the study participants were aged 45-50, they took part in a standardized treadmill test that measured their cardiorespiratory fitness.

Based on the results of the treadmill test, researchers allocated the participants to one of three groups: low, middle, or high cardiorespiratory fitness.

Compared with participants who had the lowest cardiorespiratory fitness aged 45-50, those who had the highest cardiorespiratory fitness were found to be at 37% lower risk of stroke after the age of 65.

After accounting for possible confounding factors - such as high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and atrial fibrillation - the link between high fitness levels and lower stroke risk remained.

Researchers say their findings highlight the importance of good physical fitness at all stages of life.