Exercise, Housework, and Less TV Linked to Lower Risk of Stroke

In a new study, scientists revealed that reducing stroke risks may involve adopting a specific lifestyle.

Nearly 800,000 people experience stroke each year in the United States, and research estimates that deaths from ischemic stroke are likely to reach 4.9 million by 2030 if risk factors for the condition are not addressed.

Scientific evidence has shown that exercise can help prevent stroke, heart disease, and other health conditions. However, what specific daily exercise and lifestyle choices are more likely to prevent stroke are unclear.

Recently, scientists looked at how an individual’s daily exercise and mental activity patterns might impact stroke risks. The study, published in Stroke, found that certain activities may lower the risk more than others, and some activity patterns may actually increase the risk.

The study analyzed physical and mental activity data of 386,902 UK Biobank participants without any stroke history. The participants completed questionnaires about daily activities, including household chores, sleep duration, and TV viewing. Then, the scientists followed them for an average of 7.7 years while documenting how many experienced a stroke.

At the study’s conclusion, the research team found that 6,983 participants had either an ischemic stroke, intracerebral hemorrhage, or subarachnoid hemorrhage.

The data showed that people with activity patterns that included vigorous exercise had a 17% lower risk of stroke. Moreover, those who engaged in housework and walking had a 20% lower risk of developing the condition.

In contrast, people who primarily commuted to work via car or other non-active transportation or watched TV more often had a 43% higher stroke risk. Interestingly, the scientists found that phone or computer use was associated with a lower risk, and sleeping too long was linked to a heightened risk of experiencing a stroke.

The study’s authors suggest that exercise benefits blood flow in several ways, which might explain the lower stroke risk among those who engaged in vigorous exercise, household chores, and walking.

Moreover, they suspect the higher risks associated with TV viewing may be due to consuming unhealthy snacks and soft drinks while watching shows.

Still, the study had limitations. For example, the participants self-reported their physical and mental activities, which could skew the results. Moreover, participants included in the study were less likely to have a health condition, so the findings may not be generalizable to the public.

Overall, the study’s authors say a lifestyle that includes vigorous exercise, housework, and walking while limiting TV viewing and transportation commutes could help lower the risk of stroke in the general population.

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