Moderate-intensity physical activity like brisk walking or playing tennis is enough to reduce the risk of stroke in women, a new study has suggested.
Sophia Wang, the study's lead author and professor at the Beckman Research Institute in Calif., said that she was surprised that moderate physical activity was most strongly associated with a reduced risk of stroke.
More strenuous activity such as running didn't further reduce women's stroke risk and moderate activity, such as brisk walking appeared to be ideal in this scenario, Wang said.
The study found that moderate exercise also helps offset the increased stroke risk seen with postmenopausal women taking menopausal hormones, but not completely.
Researchers analyzed information from the 133,479 women in the California Teachers Study to see how many suffered a stroke between 1996 and 2010.
Those who reported doing moderate physical activity in the three years before enrolling in the study were 20 percent less likely than women who reported no activity to suffer a stroke.
The benefits of reducing risk of stroke were further observed among the group of women who had a sustained moderate level of physical activity over time, she said.
Postmenopausal women taking menopausal hormone therapy had more than a 30 percent higher risk of stroke than women who never used menopausal hormone therapy. After the women stopped taking hormones, their risk began to diminish.
The effects of physical activity and hormone therapy appear immediate and the benefits of physical activity are consistent in premenopausal and postmenopausal women, Wang said.
Therefore, Wang recommends that women incorporate some type of physical activity into their daily routine.
Wang said that people don't have to do an extreme boot camp, and the types of activities we're talking about are accessible to most of the population like power walking and recreational tennis, for example, do not necessarily require special memberships to gyms.