Why To Exercise Today: So You Don’t Have A Stroke

runner with inhaler (Matthew Kenwrick/Flickr)

(Matthew Kenwrick/Flickr)

Don’t use the heat as an excuse.  You can always climb stairs in an air-conditioned office building or run over to the gym. Or, if you’re lucky enough to be out of town, jump in the lake for a long, glorious, vigorous swim.

In any case, you should do something. According to new research, breaking a sweat while exercising regularly may reduce your risk of stroke. You’ve heard it before. But it’s worth restating. Why wouldn’t you run around a little a few times a week to possibly avoid the horrible physical ordeal of a stroke? Particularly if you live in a part of the country known for its high stroke rate? But enough nagging.

The new, NIH-funded study of more than 27,000 Americans, 45 years and older who were followed for an average of 5.7 years, was published today in the American Heart Association journal Stroke. Most participants, equally divided between men and women, black and white, lived in regions of the southeastern U.S., known as “the stroke belt.”

From the AHA news release:

  • One-third of participants reported being inactive, exercising less than once a week.
  • Inactive people were 20 percent more likely to experience a stroke or mini-stroke than those who exercised at moderate to vigorous intensity (enough to break a sweat) at least four times a week.
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Should We All Be Learning Hands-Only CPR?

The best e-mailer I know, a Cape Cod octogenarian named Jack Alden, sends me a few gems a week — helpful hints, bits of wisdom, jokes that lighten my days. A couple of weeks ago, he passed along this University of Arizona video on a new form of CPR.

At the time, all I thought was that it looked strenuous — you have to do rapidfire compressions on the heart attack victim’s chest — but effective. And that it was nice that you didn’t have to encounter alien saliva by going mouth to mouth with the patient.

Now there’s a major new study out in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggesting that this new, simpler form of CPR can save more lives, in large part because it makes bystanders more willing to try to help. The journal’s video report on its study is here:

The move toward simplifying CPR is the lead story in the Harvard Health Letter this month. Evidence in favor of the simpler CPR is growing, it says, but there are some nuances:
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Anti-Family Bosses Are Bad For Your Health

If you have a boss who doesn’t “get it” that you need to balance your work with your family life, chances are you’re at heightened risk for heart disease and you’re shorter on sleep than colleagues with more understanding bosses, a new Harvard School of Public Health study finds.

In surveys at four Massachusetts nursing homes:

…the researchers found that employees whose managers were less supportive of their needs to balance home and work responsibilities slept less (29 minutes/day) than employees whose managers were more flexible. They also were more than twice as likely to have two or more risk factors for cardiovascular disease (CVD).

Workers who were caring directly for patients appeared to be particularly prone to heart disease risk factors if their boss was inflexible.

Do you have a boss who thinks there needs be no life outside the workplace? Can you feel it affecting your health?