Walking linked to fewer strokes in women
Huerta also declined to compare the study participants' risk levels to those of the general population, citing the subjects' unusual characteristics: a majority of men and women in the study were blood donors, who tend to be in good health in order to give blood.
"I wouldn't make much of the results because they are for a very specific population," Dr. Wilson Cueva of the University of Chicago in Illinois said.
Cueva, who was not involved with the research, pointed out that the study relied too heavily on subjective measurements, like the participants' memory of exercise routines.
"There is no objective way to measure how much exercise they actually did," he said.
Each year in the U.S., about 795,000 people suffer a stroke, according to the American Heart Association. Put another way, one American has a stroke every 40 seconds and dies from one every four minutes.
Despite a recent dip in strokes attributed to better blood pressure control and anti-smoking campaigns, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that stroke cases will increase as the global population continues to grow older.
Guidelines set by the WHO and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend at least 150 minutes - or two-and-a-half hours - of moderate exercise such as brisk walking each week.
Cueva urged health consumers to heed those guidelines for now. The way the Spanish study was designed, it's difficult to draw any conclusions he told Reuters Health. But, "We know that exercise is related to reduced risk of stroke and other diseases."
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