Health In Focus
  • Individuals performing light to moderate physical activity may have less severe strokes than people who are physically inactive
  • The rate of severe cases of stroke doubled among those with sedentary lifestyles
  • A stroke is a medical emergency with symptoms that include paralysis or numbness of the face, arm or leg and trouble speaking, understanding and walking

Walking at least four hours a week or swimming two to three hours a week is defined as mild to moderate exercising and helps reduce the severity of stroke, according to a study published in the online issue of the journal Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

"Stroke is a major cause of serious disability, so finding ways to prevent stroke or reduce the disability caused by stroke are important," said study author Katharina S. Sunnerhagen, MD, Ph.D, of the University of Gothenburg in Sweden. "While exercise benefits health in many ways, our research suggests that even simply getting in a small amount of physical activity each week may have a big impact later by possibly reducing the severity of a stroke."


The researchers identified 925 people with an average age of 73 who had a stroke. The symptoms to measure stroke were eye, arm and facial movements, level of consciousness and language skills. Eighty percent of the study participants had suffered a mild stroke.
Exercising Moderately Decreases Severity of Stroke

After the stroke attack, the researchers asked the participants how much they had moved or exercised during leisure time prior to the attack and about the intensity and duration of exercise to determine the average amount of physical activity. Relatives sometimes confirmed the answers about the exercise levels.

Light physical activity is walking at least four hours a week, and moderate physical activity is a more intense exercise kind like brisk walking, swimming, or running two to three hours a week.

The results turned out to be in favor of people who had engaged in some kind of physical activity.
  • Participants who engaged in light to moderate physical activity before their stroke had twice the chances of suffering from only a mild stroke rather than a moderate or severe stroke when compared to people who were physically inactive
  • Among the 481 (52 percent) of the participants who reported as being physically inactive before having their stroke, 354 (73 percent) had a mild stroke while 127 had a moderate or severe stroke
  • Among the 384 who engaged in light physical activity, 330 (85 percent) had a mild stroke, while only 54 of them had a severe stroke; this is around half the number of people who had no physical activity
  • Among the 59 people who participated in moderate physical activity, 53 (89 percent) had a mild stroke while only six cases were severe
The results indicated that light and moderate physical activity were equally beneficial.

"There is a growing body of evidence that physical activity may have a protective effect on the brain and our research adds to that evidence," said Sunnerhagen. "Further research is needed to better understand just how physical activity influences the severity of a stroke. Finally, physical inactivity should be monitored as a possible risk factor for severe stroke."

The study is only an association and does not prove that physical activity reduces stroke severity.

The only limitation of the study was that the participants reported on their own physical activity after having a stroke. It has to be noted in this case that memory may have been affected by a stroke, and more so in people with more severe stroke.

Reference :
  1. Why those who walk for just 35 minutes a day may have less severe strokes - (

Source: Medindia

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