Stroke – Why Excercise Is Important


A new study out explains why exercise is so important in preventing stroke. Women who take birth control pills or women who are post-menopausal and on hormone replacement therapy are at high risk for stroke. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), women who exercise moderately will have a decreased risk of stroke. This includes women who are taking hormone drugs, such as hormone replacement therapy (hrt) or hormone birth control pills. These latest findings were presented at the international stroke conference, which was held February 12-14 in San Diego.

The research suggests that there is a decreased risk among women who exercised for three years prior to starting any hormone replacement therapies. Overall women who exercised longer than the three-year period saw even lower risks of stroke. The study also determined that women who did not take hormone replacements, or women who stopped taking the hormones, saw their risks diminish over time.

Doctors suggest that women exercise for thirty minutes a day, at least three times a week, in order to cut down on their risk of stroke. This exercise can be anything from walking, bicycling, swimming, running or jogging. Most doctors agree that cardio is the best type of exercise for women who want to improve their health. It is important to remember that before starting any kind of exercise plan patients discuss it with their doctor, even a plan specifically for preventing stroke.

Sophia S. Wang, from Beckham Research Institute suggests that the effects of physical activity are almost immediately seen regardless whether a woman is post-menopause or pre-menopausal. She cautions that women do not have to do the “extreme boot camp” type of activities in order to see results. In fact she adds that strenuous activity such as running did not have as much an effect on women as moderate exercise like walking.

Women who are at a high risk for stroke are encouraged to discuss different exercise options with their doctors. The recent study did not find moderate exercise helping women who were obese or who had diabetes. Women with these types of health problems may still be at higher risk for stroke, even if they partake in daily exercise routines. In that case doctors recommend that their patients work on losing the weight, getting into better shape physically, and getting their blood sugar under control, all in an effort to prevent future health problems like stroke.

When preparing the new guidelines that came out earlier this month, the AHA found that women who had experienced hypertension during pregnancy, or preeclampsia, were at higher risk for stroke. This risk continues for years after the baby is born, even if a woman never experiences hypertension again. This is another reason why exercise is so important, women can begin an exercise routine prior to getting pregnant and for most women they will be able to continue with light exercise throughout their pregnancy.

Like obesity and diabetes, certain lifestyle choices can put a woman at higher risk for stroke. Smoking increases a woman’s risk of having a stroke if she is taking hormone replacement therapy or hormone birth control. The best option for women who are using any kind of hormone drugs is to stop smoking. Smoking cessation, exercise, eating healthy are all important activities that can help prevent stroke.

By Rachel Woodruff

Doctor’s Lounge
The Almagest

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