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Although moderate exercise results in numerous health benefits, it may not have much effect on systolic blood pressure (SBP), according to the results of a study published in a recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine. The study included 104 adults between 55 and 75 years of age with untreated high blood pressure. They were randomly assigned to 6 months of moderate exercise or no exercise.
The workout group improved aerobic and strength fitness, increased lean body mass, and reduced abdominal obesity, compared with the nonexercise group. In addition, the workout group showed an improvement in blood pressure, particularly a significant decrease in diastolic blood pressure (DBP). SBP was barely affected by the exercise regimen.
Upon further review, the researchers determined that the 8% drop in SBP and the 17% drop in DBP were attributed to the improvement in body compositionless body fat. Lead author Dr. Kerry J. Stewart from Johns Hopkins School of Medicine noted, "These findings suggest that changes in body composition seem to be an important pathway by which exercise training improves cardiovascular health in older men and women."