According to a new study published in the journal Hypertension, just half-an-hour of walking in the morning could be as effective as medication at lowering blood pressure.
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Researchers at the University of Western Australia found that 30 minutes of walking on a treadmill in the morning improved participants’ blood pressure readings for the rest of the day. They say that for some individuals, the morning walking could replace the need for medication.
According to the charity Blood Pressure UK, about one-third of adults have high blood pressure, which is defined as a reading of more than 140/90mmHg and, in Britain, about 12 million people take medication for the condition.
For the study, Michael Wheeler and colleagues assessed 67 overweight and obese men and women (aged 55 to 80) who engaged in three different 8-hour daily routines.
The first routine involved sitting continuously for eight hours. The second involved sitting for one hour before walking for 30 minutes at moderate intensity on a treadmill, followed by sitting for a further 6.5 hours.
The third routine involved sitting for one hour before 30-minute treadmill walking and then sitting for 6.5 hours, but with this interrupted every 30 minutes with 3 minutes of light intensity walking.
The results showed that blood pressure was significantly lower when participants engaged in the routines that involved walking, compared with the sitting-only routine.
Wheeler says that the magnitude of the blood pressure reduction approached that of what may be expected when this population group take anti-hypertensive medication.
Commenting on the study, the British Heart Foundation added that half-an-hour of morning exercise is also good for people’s mental health.
Cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Chris Allen, says the findings add to a huge body of evidence showing that regular exercise can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes: "It can also give both your body and mind a boost, which is why 30 minutes of activity in the morning is a great way to set yourself up for the day.”
As the proportion of those who are overweight with higher blood pressure increases with age, adopting a strategy of combining exercise with breaks in sitting may be important to control and prevent the development of high blood pressure.”
Professor Michael Wheeler, Lead Author