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Walking each day can prevent stroke, regardless of pace

November 18, 2013

Strokes result in the death of approximately 130,000 people each year, and they cause disability and other side effects in hundreds of thousands more individuals, according to the Centers for Disease Control. While strokes are certainly a big threat to healthy aging, they are not unavoidable. Seniors can take many proactive steps to prevent them. A new study found that men who walk at least one or two hours a day saw a significant drop in their stroke risk regardless of their pace.

The findings, published in the journal Stroke, come from researchers at University College London. Scientists recruited more than 3,400 men between the ages of 60 and 80 and asked them not only how far they walked each week, but how quickly they usually moved. After breaking them into four groups based on how much participants walked per week, the team followed participants for 10 years and monitored the incidence of stroke. Those who walked between 14 and 22 hours each week had a stroke risk about one-third lower than those who did not walk as much, while those who walked 22 hours or more had a risk two-thirds lower.

"The total time spent walking was more consistently protective against stroke than walking pace," said Dr. Barbara Jefferis, the study's first author. "Overall it seemed that accumulating more time walking was most beneficial."

Of course, walking is just one way to prevent strokes. According to the Mayo Clinic, eating a diet that contains high levels of fruits and vegetables is one of the best ways to prevent strokes because diet can control blood pressure and cholesterol,  two of the biggest risk factors for stroke.