Yet another study shows a minimum of regular exercise can deliver major health benefits.
A study conducted by the University of South Carolina’s Prevention Research Center found that a moderate level of exercise can drastically reduce the risk of stroke for both men and women. The study found walking just 30-minutes a day, 5 days per week can reduce the risk of stroke by up to 30% in men and 57% in women when compared to the activity levels of total couch potatoes.
There are several interesting items with regard to this study, in that the researchers actually used a treadmill test to measure fitness rather than rely on people self-reporting their activity levels. Also, this study looked at 61000 people over 18 years and found that men with the highest level of fitness reduced their risk of stroke by 40% while women improved their odds over the inactive by 43%. Comparing the results for women considered most fit (43% lower chance of stroke) to those moderately fit (up to 57% lower chance of stroke), the conclusion can be made that some women get more out of moderate exercise than high-level exercise.
These findings just reinforce the results of other studies that have looked at the effect that exercise has on different markers of health, in that people don’t have to devote ridiculous amounts of time and effort to their exercise routines in order to reap big-time benefits. It is certainly reasonable to ask people to walk for 30-minutes, 5 times per week.
In keeping with my philosophy that people can be fit at every size, the researchers found that these lower risks for stroke held true even when taking into account risk factors such as weight, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and family history. This finding is very important in that it shows that people can improve their fitness independently of changing other habits, including weight loss. People should do whatever they can to minimize their risks for stroke and other diseases, and this study shows that exercise is the single best habit that people can cultivate.
Researchers state that these results show that fitness is a strong predictor of stroke risk all by itself.