A recent study has revealed that people with good physical condition after the age of 40 are at a reduced risk of stroke. According to the study published in December 11, 2007, issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology, people who are physically fit after 40 might have lowered their risk of stroke by as much as 50 percent compared to people who are not able to climb stairs, kneel, bend, or lift as well.
Lead author Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, with the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, said: "People who reported better physical health had significantly lower risk of stroke. This is independent of the known risk factors for stroke in the general population."
Researchers studied 13,615 men and women between 40 and 79 years of age from 1993 to 1997 who had not suffered a stroke, heart attack or cancer.
The participants were told to complete a self-reported test on their physical function 18 months later that observed how well they were able to climb stairs, carry groceries, kneel, bend and lift.
The researchers supervised how many strokes were suffered in this group through 2005.
The study found that people who topped the physical function test had 50-percent lower risk of stroke than those with the lowest test scores.
The results remained unaffected even after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, high blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, physical activity, social class, alcohol consumption and respiratory function.
Myint said that people with poor physical function might embody a high-risk population for stroke.
"This physical function test may identify apparently healthy men and women at an increased risk of stroke who may benefit the most from preventative treatments," he said.
Myint added that it's also possible that poor physical function may reflect underlying health issues, such as chronic inflammation, which may lead to vascular disease.
He also said that increasing physical activity and eating more fruits and vegetables might also help to reduce stroke risk.