DALLAS, Nov. 14, 2013 — Older men who walked at least one to two hours each day compared to less than half an hour per day had a reduced risk of stroke, in a large population-based study reported in the American Heart Association journal Stroke.
In a study of 3,435 healthy men age 60 to 80, researchers asked distance walked each week and usual walking pace. They divided them into groups: those who spent zero-three hours a week; four-seven hours; eight-14 hours; 15-21 hours; and more than 22 hours walking per week. Men were followed for the next 10 years and monitored for all new cases of stroke.
“If you took one thousand men who usually walk 8-14 hours per week and followed them for 10 years, on average they would have 55 strokes, compared with 80 for the group who only walk zero to three hours per week,” explained Barbara Jefferis, Ph.D., study first author and senior research associate in the Department of Primary Care & Population Health at University College London in the U.K. “The total time spent walking was more consistently protective against stroke than walking pace; overall it seemed that accumulating more time walking was most beneficial.”
Study participants were part of the British Regional Heart Study, sampled from one primary care center in each of 24 towns across Britain. In 1998-2000, participants completed questionnaires about various aspects of their walking activities and other physical activities.
Nurses also conducted a range of traditional health tests such as blood pressure and measured novel risk factors such as inflammatory markers.
“Our findings suggest that regular walking each week could be an important part of stroke prevention strategies in older people,” Jefferis said.
Co-authors are Peter H. Whincup, Ph.D.; Olia Papacosta, M.Sc.; and Sasiwarang Goya Wannamethee, Ph.D. Author disclosures are on the manuscript.
The study was funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR post-doctoral fellowship to Barbara Jefferis) and the British Heart Foundation.
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