Exercise May Reduce the Risk of ‘Silent Stroke’ in Elderly

brain_349_4.jpg

We know that exercise helps protect the heart, but new research suggests it may help protect the brain as well, the Los Angeles Times reported. In a recent study, researchers found that elderly adults who exercised regularly appeared to be less likely to suffer a “silent stroke” than non-exercisers. Strokes can cause brain damage by cutting off blood flow to the brain.  While major strokes are can be recognized by symptoms such as trouble speaking and weakness on one side of the body, silent strokes – as the name suggests – go unnoticed.  Symptoms include slight memory and mobility problems and an increased risk of future strokes. Researchers from Columbia University and the University of Miami asked over a 1000 people who hadn’t suffered a stroke about their exercise habits.  Years later, they conducted MRI scans on the participants, aged 70 on average, to look for signs of silent strokes. They found that the participants who reported moderate-to-heavy regular exercise were 40 percent less likely to have suffered a stroke than non-exercisers. There were no differences between those who reported light exercise and no exercise, but the researchers stressed that this did not mean that light exercisers should give up. “It is important to note that light-intensity physical activity is likely to have protective effects against multiple other conditions associated with aging and our findings should not discourage individuals from performing even light intensity activities,” the researchers wrote. The study was published in the journal Neurology. Click here to read more from the LA Times.