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Long-term Follow-up in WHS Shows Walking Protects Women Against Stroke

doi: 10.1097/NNE.0b013e3181ed820f
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The June 2010 issue of the journal Stroke reports that women who walked 2 or more hours per week showed a 30% lower risk for any type of stroke than women who did not walk. The women who usually walked at a brisk pace, more than 4.8 km/h, reduced their risk for stroke by 37% when compared with women who did not walk.

Additionally, the women who walked 2 hours or more per week had a 57% lower risk for hemorrhagic stroke, with those walking at a brisk pace reducing their risk by 68%. Jacob Sattlemair, MSc, of Harvard School of Public Health, followed 39,315 women 45 years or older for 11.9 years to determine that walking time and walking pace inversely related to total, ischemic, and hemorrhagic stroke risk. Women who were most active in leisure-time activities exhibited a 17% less likely chance of having a stroke than those who were less active.

Women volunteered to participate in his study at the conclusion of the Women's Health Study in 2004. The women were asked to self-report their usual walking pace and were stratified into groups according to this information. The groups were those who walked less than 3.2 km/h, those who walked at 3.2 to 4.7 km/h (average pace), those who walked 4.8 to 6.3 km/h (brisk pace), or those who walked greater than 6.4 km/h (striding pace). During the time of the study, 579 strokes were reported in the participants: 473 were ischemic, 102 hemorrhagic, and 4 were of unknown type.

Interestingly, other types of physical activity, whether vigorous or moderate, showed no association with stroke incidence. The author of the study indicated that walking has a favorable effect on blood pressure, which is a significant risk factor for both hemorrhagic and ischemic strokes.

Source: Harrison P, Nghiem, H. Walking protects women against stroke: WHS long-term follow-up. Medscape CME Clinical Briefs. April 13, 2010. Available at Accessed May 2, 2010.

Submitted by: Robin Pattillo, PhD, RN, News Editor at

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.