How much must a woman walk every week to reduce her risk of stroke?

Stroke is the No. 1 cause of disability and strikes 800,000 Americans every year. However, walking can help prevent it.

A report in Stroke: Journal of the American Heart Association, yields information as it pertains to women.

For the study, over 39,000 female health professionals (average age 54) were followed.

They reported, every 2-3 years over nearly 12 years, time spent walking or hiking, running, jogging, cycling, aerobic dancing or other exercising, using cardio machines, playing raquet sports, swimming, doing yoga and stretching.

  • Household chores were excluded from the time reports.
  • Walking pace was also reported.
  • Women who walked at least two hours every week had a 30 percent reduction in all-type stroke risk, compared to able bodied women who did not regularly walk.
  • Brisk walkers had even bigger reductions.

The conclusion of the study was a recommendation of walking two or more hours per week at a pace of at least 3 mph.

Walk to Help Prevent Stroke

As a former personal trainer I have worked with many individuals who, prior to meeting me, clung onto the treadmill while they walked, believing that this anchoring duplicated unsupported walking.

So very wrong. Solution: Lower the incline and keep the hands off.

If you’re a treadmill user, do not hold on — other than during moments you take a sip of water or change the machine’s settings. Otherwise you’ll be mimicking using a walker.

It makes no sense to walk into a gym without assistance, step onto a treadmill, and then hold onto it while walking.

Let go, even if you have to initially slow down the speed, and let your arms move naturally. They should swing more at faster speeds.

Don’t obsess about using the highest incline. Walk briskly at a zero or very slight incline, and remember, DO NOT HOLD ON other than to steady yourself while drinking water or adjusting the settings.

Four, 30-minute walking sessions a week will help prevent stroke. You can also break those down into eight, 15 minute sessions.

Remember, brisk walking has more of a stroke preventive effect than does slower walking.

Lorra Garrick is a former personal trainer certified by the American Council on Exercise. At Bally Total Fitness she trained clients of all ages for fat loss, muscle building, fitness and improved health. 
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