People after the age of 40 who can climb stairs, kneel, bend and lift may lower their risk of stroke by 50%.
Between 1993 and 1997 researchers checked a sample of 13,615 men and women in the UK aged between 40 and 79. Participants had not had a stroke, heart attack or cancer. They reported on their physical ability 18 months later, itemizing their ability to climb stairs, carry groceries, kneel, bend and lift. The number of strokes suffered by the group through 2005 was also noted.
Participants who scored in the top 25% on the physical function test had a 50% lower rate of stroke than participants with the lowest scores. For every 10-point increase, the mens’ risk of stroke was reduced by 19% and the women by 29%.
“People who reported better physical health had significantly lower risk of stroke”, said study author Phyo Kyaw Myint, MRCP, of the University of Cambridge. “This is independent of the known risk factors for stroke in the general population”. Myint said that people with poor physical health could represent a high risk for stroke, while pointing to other health issues such as chronic inflammation, leading to vascular disease. Increased physical activity, and eating more fruit and vegetables might also help reduce risk of stroke, he said.