Sweat It!

Men's Health |

The more you sweat, the lower your stroke risk, new study says

Exercising hard enough to break a sweat four or more times a week was associated with a lower risk of stroke, according to this study reported by the American Heart Association. Researchers analysed data from 27 348 adults, age 45 and older, who did not have a history of stroke at the start of the study. The participants were asked how many times per week they exercised hard enough to work up a sweat. Based on their answers they were divided into three groups: inactive (less than once per week), one to three times/week, and four or more times per week. During the follow-up, which lasted an average of 5.7 years, there were 918 strokes or mini strokes. People who were inactive had a 20% higher risk of having a stoke, but after controlling for traditional stroke risk factors, that fell to a statistically non-significant 14% increase. This means that physical activity worked to reduce stroke risk by reducing risk factors for stroke, such as high blood pressure. The association between more frequent exercise and reduced stroke risk was clearer in men than in women; among men only those who broke a sweat four or more times per week had a lower risk of stroke. Because people were asked to report how frequently they broke a sweat exercising, it could be that lower intensity sports such as cycling and walking were not reported. Women may benefit from less strenuous exercise, such as walking which was not the focus of this study, according to the lead author.

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