Exercise Helps Prevent Strokes Before They Strike
If you are health-conscious, you know how important our lifestyle is in preventing a host of serious diseases and other medical conditions, including stroke, which is the third leading cause of death right after cancer and heart attacks.
Since May is the Stroke Awareness Month, it is a good time to learn about some preventive measures to protect ourselves from the debilitating “brain attack,” which kills or disables someone in the United States every 45 seconds. Not coincidentally, May is also the High Blood Pressure Education Month, shedding light on this symptom-less condition that can, if left untreated, lead to strokes.
“Stroke happens when a blood clot blocks an artery, interrupting blood flow to the brain,” says Jesse James Judd, owner of Meridian Adventure Boot Camp. “We do know, however, that physical activity helps prevent the formation of blood clots by stimulating circulation.”
While strokes usually happen to people over 55, a disturbing new report recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the incidence of strokes is on the rise among young people, possibly due to the increase in obesity and generally unhealthy lifestyle.
Among controllable and treatable factors that increase a stroke risk are heart disease, high cholesterol, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension.
The good news, Judd says, is that many of the stroke-inducing risk factors can be prevented or reduced with simple steps anyone at any age can take– such as a healthy diet and regular exercise.
“Numerous studies indicate that exercise has significant benefits when it comes to reducing the incidence of strokes,” Judd notes. “Research also shows that people who are physically active before suffering a stroke may have a less severe loss of brain function and recover better than those who did not exercise before. Either way, physical activity is a stroke of luck – no pun intended.”
What workouts are best for stroke prevention?
“Any vigorous and sustained physical activity that tackles each of the risk factors will be beneficial,” Judd says. “In other words, exercises that raise your heart rate, improve the overall quality of your blood vessels, lower your blood pressure, and reduce or maintain your weight, will be very useful.”
Brisk walking, jogging or even jumping jacks or jumping rope “will strengthen your cardiovascular system and increase the volume of blood and oxygen that moves through your body.”
Strength training “will reduce your body fat and blood pressure, lower your cholesterol level, and build up your endurance, keeping your heart healthy and strong.”
Interval training “combines bursts of high intensity work with periods of rest, so it provides a terrific all-body training without the inconvenience of long and tedious workouts.”