Reason No. 4,376 to Exercise: Prevent Strokes

woman with mp3 player listening to musicTypically, the three primary reasons people decide to start exercising are 1) Lose a few pounds, 2) Lose a few pounds, and 3) Lose a few pounds.

Who doesn’t want to look better, and feel more fit. In fact, however, there are myriad reasons for getting off the couch and going for a walk or run, or joining (and actually going to) a gym. A recent study added yet another invaluable reason for working out: I may lower your chance of having a stroke.

Strokes occur when blood vessels become blocked, stemming blood flow to the brain, which causes brain cells to die; and they happen for a variety of reasons, including high blood pressure, smoking and diabetes. But in a study of 30,000 participants that lasted nearly six years, and later reported in ScienceDaily.com, researchers found that participants who where inactive (exercised less than once a week) were four times more likely to suffer a stroke than participants who exercised at least four times a week.

“Physical inactivity is a major modifiable risk factor for stroke,”  Virginia Howard, Ph.D., senior author of the study from the School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, told ScienceDaily.com. “This should be emphasized in routine physician check-ups along with general education about the benefits of exercise on stroke risk factors including high blood pressure, diabetes and being overweight or obese.”

No one wants to suffer a catastrophic illness. Nor do we want to think about it. And it may not be enough of a motivating factor to make us actually use that pair of running shoes we bought a few weeks ago, or toss those cookies stashed in your nightstand. But consider these frightening statistics:

With over 140,000 people dying from strokes each it, the U.S. Center for Disease Control says the illness is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S. – and the LEADING cause of long-term disability. All told, about 800,000 people suffer strokes each year.

Among African-Americans the rate of strokes is double that of Caucasians, and they are likely to occur at an earlier age. In fact, Blacks, with higher rates of occurrences in each of the stroke risk factors, are more affected by the illness than any other racial group in the nation.

Get up and get moving. And you’re already a fitness enthusiast pass this one to someone you love who isn’t. Living healthier and longer is as good reason as any to get started.

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