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To Your Health Newsletter

June, 2022 (Vol. 16, Issue 13)
Reducing Stroke Risk

By Editorial Staff

If you've ever had a stroke, witnessed someone having a stroke, or dealt with (yourself or with a loved one) the aftermath of a stroke, you know avoiding one at all costs is absolutely essential. Before you go looking up all the risk factors that contribute to stroke, consider these simple, straightforward findings from new research: sit less and move more.

The primary finding from the study, which appears in JAMA Network Open, is that the more time you spend moving (light-intensity or moderate-to vigorous-intensity physical activity), the lower your stroke risk; and the more time you spend being sedentary (i.e., not moving), the higher your risk. How much moderate-to-vigorous activity is associated with a significant reduction in stroke risk? Approximately 25 minutes per day. (If doing light activity, the requirement goes up, but is still manageable: 4-5 hours per day.)

Then the researchers dug even deeper and examined how stroke risk is impacted by the length of time you spend moving vs. sitting throughout the day (individual "bouts" of activity or nonactivity). You might assume more is better, and when it comes to overall movement vs. non-movement (hours per day), it is; but shorter bouts of moderate-to-vigorous-intensity activity (1-9 minutes at a time) appear to lower your stroke risk significantly, whereas longer bouts (10 minutes or longer at a time) do not. On the other hand, long bouts of sedentary time (17 minutes or more) increase stroke risk much more than shorter bouts of sedentary time (eight minutes or fewer).

So, when it comes to reducing stroke risk, move as much as possible, particularly in short bursts of activity throughout the day. Don't think you have the time? Don't wait until you suffer a stroke to find time.