Women Can Reduce Stroke Risk With Physical Activity

Dr. Sears' Blog: Women Can Reduce Stroke Risk With Physical Activity

A few weeks back we blogged about the Journal of the American Medical Association’s new guidelines for physical activity being raised for women. The study suggested that for women to be successful in maintaining normal weight and gaining fewer pounds, they need to exercise for about 60 minutes per day of moderate-intensity activity (1). That’s a whopping 420 minutes per week! It always seems like the more chaotic our lives get, the harder it becomes to implement guidelines like this within it.

The good news is that it doesn’t take as much activity or even the same moderate intensity to reap the benefits of lowering your risk of chronic disease. A study published this month in the Journal Stroke involved 39,315 healthy women who took part in Women’s Healthy Study. It examined their activity levels and risk of stroke. Over an average follow-up of approximately 12 years, 579 women had a stroke. Although there was no association between vigorous physical activity and stroke risk, there was an inverse relationship between walking time and pace with the risk of having a stroke (2). For women who walked more than two hours per week at a brisk pace (3 to 3.9 mph), there was a significant reduction in their risk of suffering a stroke (3). Almost twice as many women in the United States die of heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases than from all forms of cancer (4). This becomes something simple women can do to lessen their risk and can even be broken up into 10 to 15 minute increments a day to make it more realistic to implement.


  1. Lee IM, Djoussé L, Sesso HD, Wang L, Buring JE. Physical activity and weight gain prevention. JAMA. 2010 Mar 24;303(12):1173-9.
  2. Sattelmair JR, Kurth T, Buring JE, Lee IM. Physical Activity and Risk of Stroke in Women. Stroke. 2010 Apr 6.
  3. Brisk Walking Reduces Stroke Risk.
  4. Women, Heart Disease and Stroke.

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About Dr. Barry Sears

Dr. Barry Sears is a leading authority on the impact of the diet on hormonal response, genetic expression, and inflammation. A former research scientist at the Boston University School of Medicine and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dr. Sears has dedicated his research efforts over the past 45 years to the study of lipids. He has published 40 scientific articles and holds 14 U.S. patents in the areas of intravenous drug delivery systems and hormonal regulation for the treatment of cardiovascular disease. He has also written 14 books, including the New York Times #1 best-seller, The Zone, which have sold more than 6 million copies in the U.S. and have been translated into 22 different languages.

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