Regular activity not only improves physical and mental health; it also reduces your risk of developing numerous health problems, including high cholesterol, heart disease and stroke. Here are some great reasons to get up and move more:
- High levels of inactivity increase stroke risk
The more exercise you do, the lower your risk of stroke. One study showed adults under 60 who had low physical activity and spent more than eight hours a day sitting around had a four times higher risk of stroke than those reporting less than four hours a day of inactive leisure time (1).
- Active men and women have 25-30% less chance of stroke
Whether it’s walking, leisure pursuits or simply having a physically demanding job, active men and women generally have a 25% to 30% lower risk of stroke or mortality than less active people (2).
- Physical inactivity is 1 of 10 key risk factors for stroke
According to the World Health Organization, physical inactivity is one of the main risk factors of stroke, along with high blood pressure, elevated lipids, diabetes, smoking, unhealthy diet and obesity (3). As a result, exercise therapy is becoming a recommendation both pre- and post-stroke by medical professionals.
- Physically active jobs reduce stroke risk by up to 43%
Being physically active isn’t only measured by how long you spend in the gym. What you do for a living is equally important. A high level of activity at work is associated with a stroke risk reduction of 43%, while those with moderately active jobs see a reduction of 36% (4).
- Leisure pursuits reduce stroke risk by up to 20-25%
Whether you choose to spend your time off watching TV or climbing mountains, it almost certainly has an effect on stroke risk too. Findings from one study showed high levels of physical activity during leisure time were associated with a reduced risk of up to 25%, in comparison to inactive leisure time (4).
- 30 minutes of moderate exercise is beneficial to stroke survivors
The optimal duration of exercise in relation to lowering stroke risk has long been debated. But one report suggests 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise is more beneficial to stroke survivors than doing a whole hour of low-intensity exercise, as it is more effective at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol levels (5).
- 1 in 5 adults don’t do enough exercise
All over the world, people are eating more and moving less. It’s now estimated that 1 in 5 adults and four out of five adolescents (aged 11-17) don’t do enough physical activity. This is compounded by the fact that poorer people; the elderly; the disabled; and marginalised communities have fewer opportunities to be active (6).
- Non-communicable diseases are responsible for 71% of deaths globally
Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) include heart disease, stroke and diabetes, and represent one of the major causes of death for people aged 30 to 70 every year. Regular physical exercise is the key to their prevention and treatment, which is why the World Health Organization is aiming to reduce physical inactivity by 15% in the next ten years (6).
- American Heart Association. Too much time on a computer, watching TV or other sedentary activities raises stroke. Science News. August 19, 2021. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2021/08/210819081501.htm.
- Virgina J. Howard and Michelle N. McDonnell. Physical Activity in Primary Stroke Prevention. 16 April 2015. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/STROKEAHA.115.006317.
- Global, regional and national burden of stroke and its risk factors 1990-2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. vol 20. issue 10. P798-820. 2021 Oct 01.GBD 2019 Stroke Collaborators.
- Tarig H Balla Abdalla et al.Occupational Physical Activity in Young Adults and Stroke: Was it to do with my job? Published online 2018 Aug 28.Doi:10.7759/cureus.3217.
- Global action plan on physical activity 2018–2030: more active people for a healthier world. Geneva: World Health Organization; IGO, 2018. Licence: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0.
Updated February 2022
Next review 2024