Geriatrician, Hospitalist, Patient Advocate, Healthcare Educator

Physical Activity and Stroke Risk

Photo by Arek Adeoye

A new study published in JAMA June 3, 2022, suggests that more time spent being physically active, especially at moderate intensities, and less time spent being sedentary, particularly in longer bouts, may help reduce the risk of stroke.

The study involved 7607 adults who were 45 years and older from May 2009 to January 2013 with black adults and those residents of the southeastern states in the stroke belt oversampled. The study was done with the use of an accelerometer.

Findings include:

  • Those that took part in moderate to vigorous physical activity 25 minutes per day or 175 minutes a week had a 43% lower risk of stroke.
  • Those that had a sedentary time of 13 hours or more had a 44% higher risk of stroke. Larger amount of sedentary time of 17 hours or more was associated with a 54% higher risk of stroke.

In conclusion:

  • Those that were sedentary had the highest risk of stroke.
  • The more physically active, the lower the risk.
  • Replacing sedentary time with 4 to 5 hours of light-intensity physical activity or short bouts of moderate to vigorous activity can reduce stroke risk.

The key point from this study is that moving more and sitting less can reduce stroke risk.

Here are some helpful tips to prevent being sedentary and being labeled as having “sitting disease”

  • Stand or walk every chance you get! If you can talk on the phone standing or walking, do it
  • Look into a standing desk, treadmill desk, or bike desk as an addition to your office space if space permits. If you can work on your kitchen island standing for 30 minutes, take the opportunity
  • Take a break from sitting every 30 minutes or so and stand up and stretch. Set a reminder or alarm if you need to.
  • Listen to an audible book and take a walk instead of sitting down to read a book
  • Get up and walk during TV commercials
  • If you are going to play video games, try to incorporate some active video games