Thirty minutes of weekly exercise may offer protection against subarachnoid hemorrhage [SAH], a life-threatening type of stroke, according to a new study published in Scientific Reports.
SAH is caused by bleeding into the space surrounding the brain and is particularly lethal, with up to half of those affected dying within three months of onset. Among older adults, head injury, smoking and high blood pressure are known to raise the risk of SAH, but there is a dearth of research on the association between exercise and risk, the researchers wrote.
Data gathered from a Finnish population survey of 70,000 showed that as little as half an hour of light exercise per week reduces the risk of SAH by about 5%, and the benefit increased with the amount of exercise.
“Even moderate physical exercise, such as a 30-minute walk or bike ride four days a week reduces the risk of SAH by roughly 20 percent, regardless of age and gender,” explained Joni Lindbohm, M.D., the principal author of the study. For smokers in particular, exercise helped reduce risk two times more than it did in non-smokers, he added. But he cautions that quitting smoking remains the principal way to prevent the disorder.
Read the study