I am currently seeing three patients that have had major strokes. They are so debilitating and/or deadly, that I know that I never want to have one. Researchers at Columbia University in New York announced the findings from a recent study which concluded that regular exercise prevents ischemic strokes (no surprise). But what they found was that high-intensity exercise provided the greatest protection, independent of the improvement exercise has on diabetes, hypertension, and dyslipidemia.

They looked at over 3000 people in the northern Manhattan Study, with the average age being 69. Only 20% of the participants exercised at a moderate to high intensity rate, and a whopping  40.5% did no exercise at all. They followed the subjects for 9 years, and during that time there were 238 strokes. They found that the greatest stroke prevention occurred from the intensity level of exercise, and not overall energy expenditure. The results appear in the November 24th issue of Neurology, and surprised the researchers, as this was the first study to test the intensity level of exercise. Bottom line: to improve your odds against having a stroke, exercise at a moderate or high intensity. If you can carry on a conversation easily while exercising, the intensity isn’t high enough. But don’t give up; if you are just starting, stick with it until you can push the gas pedal a little more.

Stay well, John R Blilie, M.S.