A little exercise may work wonders for individuals with high blood pressure. The results of a study published in the American Journal of Hypertension (August 2003) found that previously sedentary people with hypertension saw meaningful decreases in blood pressure with moderate increases in physical activity.
In an 8-week intervention study, Japanese researchers examined the response to exercise training in 207 untreated patients with high blood pressure. The participants were divided into 5 groups, depending on the duration of exercise each week: no regular exercise; 30 to 60 minutes/week; 61 to 90 minutes/week; 91 to 120 minutes/week; and >120 minutes/week. At the outset, there were no differences among the groups regarding age, gender, height, weight, calorie intake, and blood pressure levels.
For the sedentary group, no changes in blood pressure were recorded. All of the participants in the exercise groups, however, showed substantial reductions in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. In the 61- to 90-minute/week group, the average duration of exercise was about 75 minutes/week. The reduction in systolic pressure was ~12 mm Hg, and the drop in diastolic pressure was ~8 mm Hg.
?The magnitude of reductions in systolic blood pressure was greater in the 61- to 90-minute/week group, compared with the 30- to 60-minute/week group,? said the investigators. ?There were no greater reductions in systolic blood pressure with further increases in exercise volume.?