Older men who walked more each week reduced their stroke risk more

November 15th, 2013 by American Heart Association

Vic Richer and Albert Matthews on the 20 Km World Aid Walk on 7 May 2012 (click image to expand - ©RLLord)

Vic Richer and Albert Matthews raising money for several charities on the 20 Km World Aid Walk on 7 May 2012 (click image to expand – ©RLLord)

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 to three hours a week; four to seven hours; eight to 14 hours; 15 to 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.

The researchers found that men who walked eight to 14 hours per week had about one-third lower risk of stroke than men who spent zero to three hours walking each week.

The risk was about two-thirds lower for those walking more than 22 hours a week.

Forty-two percent walked for more than eight hours per week while 9% walked for more than 22 hours per week.

Men who walked zero to three hours per week had 80 strokes per 10,000 person years and men who walked eight to 14 hours per week had 55 strokes per 10,000 person years.

Dr Barbara Jefferis, study first author and senior research associate in the Department of Primary Care & Population Health at University College London in the UK said “if you took one thousand men who usually walk 8 to 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,”

“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,” Dr Jefferis said.

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,” Dr Jefferis said.

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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