Over 795,000 people in the United States will have a stroke each year, and nearly 87 percent of them are ischemic strokes, in which blood flow to the brain is blocked. After having a stroke, a persons risk of dying from any cause increases significantly. However, new research suggests that getting more physical activity, like walking or gardening for a few minutes per day, could drastically reduce this risk.
Walking and Risk of Death After Stroke
According to a new study, reducing your risk of death after a stroke could be as simple as taking a stroll around your neighborhood or on a treadmill for 30 minutes a day. For their research, a group of scientists from University of Calgary in Canada compared 895 stroke survivors of average age 72 with about 98,000 volunteers of average age 63 who never had a stroke (control group). The researchers evaluated the participants’ daily activity levels by asking questions about their physical exercise.
Over the next four and a half years, 25 percent of the stroke survivors died from any cause, compared to six percent of those who didn’t have a stroke. After analyzing the participant activity levels, the researchers found that among the stroke survivors, 15 percent of the participants who walked or gardened for at least three to four hours a week (the amount deemed “regular exercise”) died during the follow up, compared to 33 percent of those who did not get as much exercise.
The researchers were able to determine that people who had a stroke before and exercised regularly reduced their risk of early death from any cause by 54 percent. In the control group, four percent of those who exercised died during the follow-up period, compared to eight percent of those who did not.
The most surprising findings, perhaps, were about stroke survivors under age 75 — the research showed that regular exercise for these folks cut their risk of death by a whopping 80 percent! “Our results suggest getting a minimum amount of physical activity may reduce long-term mortality from any cause in stroke survivors,” said study author Raed A. Joundi, MD, in a press release. “We should particularly emphasize this to stroke survivors who are younger in age, as they may gain the greatest health benefits from walking just 30 minutes each day.”
These results show that even if we’ve suffered a health event like a stroke, a little bit of effort can go a long way in helping us to live longer, healthier lives. We hope this info inspires you to lace up your walking shoes!