exercise in the prevention of stroke

Last reviewed 12/2022

  • a US study confirmed that increasing physical activity reduces the risk of stroke - the study revealed that walking just 20 km/week can lead to a significant reduction in risk of stroke, even in older people

  • study design:
    • prospective.
    • cohort of 11, 130 alumni of Harvard University (men aged 43-88) enrolled in study in 1977.
    • a further questionnaire in found that that 378 strokes occurred between 1977 and 1990

  • results:
    • increasing exercise reduced the risk of stroke. Men walking more than 20 km/week had a relative risk of stroke of 0.77. This compared for example with men who walk 10-19 km/week who had a RR of 1.01

  • the relationship between stroke and exercise was maintained allowing for confounding factors such as alcohol consumption, hypertension.


  • Lee I-M, Paffenbarger RS. Physical activity and stroke incidence; The Harvard alumni study. Stroke (1998), 29, 2049-54.