Most of us do it without thinking, but crossing your legs can be a big deal for someone who has just suffered a stroke, according to a new study.

Researchers from Germany found that people who are able to cross their legs soon after having a severe stroke are more likely to have a successful recovery.

“They found that the patients who crossed their legs did better,” said Dr. Irene Katzan, a neurologist at the Cleveland Clinic, who did not take part in the study.

“They did better at the time of discharge, and when they called them back one year later they continued to do better than the patients that did not cross their legs in the unit.”

For the study, researchers at the University of Munich followed 68 stroke patients for a year. The results indicated that people who were able to cross their legs within the first 15 days after severe strokes had fewer neurological problems, lower death rates and were able to be more independent in daily life.

Leg crossing may be an easy way to help doctors determine who may have a better chance for recovery, the researchers said.

The study was published in the journal Neurology.