Regular exercise has been long recommended as a way to improve overall health and manage various medical conditions.
A new study suggests that the timing of exercise could also play a role in its effectiveness, particularly when it comes to managing blood pressure in older adults with hypertension.
The study, presented at the American Physiology Summit in Long Beach, California, examined the impact of exercise timing on blood pressure in elderly patients with hypertension.
The researchers found that those who exercised in the evening experienced a greater decrease in blood pressure compared to those who exercised in the morning.
Moreover, the study revealed the neurovascular mechanisms responsible for these findings.
The study involved 23 older adults with hypertension, all of whom were taking prescribed blood pressure medication for at least four months.
The participants exercised three times a week for 10 weeks by cycling on a stationary bike. One group exercised only between 7 and 10 a.m., while the other group exercised only between 5 and 8 p.m.
The researchers found that although diastolic blood pressure decreased similarly in both groups, systolic blood pressure only decreased after evening exercise.
The investigators also measured the autonomic functions—nervous system functions that regulate involuntary physiologic processes—that control blood pressure in each group.
The results showed that an improvement in the neural responses to changes in blood pressure—known as the arterial tonus—was responsible for the greater blood pressure benefit from evening exercise.
The study’s findings add to a growing body of evidence suggesting that exercise timing can influence its health benefits.
A 2019 study found that exercising at the same time of day consistently was associated with better sleep quality in middle-aged adults.
Additionally, research has suggested that morning exercise may be more effective at reducing blood pressure in some people, while evening exercise may be more effective for others.
The potential impact of exercise timing on health outcomes underscores the importance of personalized exercise plans tailored to individual needs and preferences.
It’s also important to note that the study only involved a small group of elderly patients with hypertension, so further research is needed to confirm the findings and explore their generalizability to other populations.
Nevertheless, the study’s findings suggest that for some individuals, the timing of exercise could be an important factor in maximizing its health benefits.
In particular, older adults with hypertension who struggle to see improvements in blood pressure through exercise may benefit from trying evening exercise.
As with any medical condition, it’s important to consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to exercise routines or medication regimens.
How to reduce blood pressure
Having high blood pressure can increase the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, and other serious health problems.
Fortunately, there are many ways to reduce blood pressure and lower the risk of these health problems. Here are some tips on how to reduce blood pressure:
Maintain a healthy weight: Being overweight or obese can increase blood pressure. Losing weight can help to lower blood pressure. A healthy weight can be achieved through regular exercise and healthy eating habits.
Exercise regularly: Regular exercise can help to reduce blood pressure. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity, such as brisk walking, cycling, or swimming, on most days of the week.
Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help to lower blood pressure. A diet that is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat dairy products, and is low in saturated and total fat, can help to reduce blood pressure.
Limit sodium intake: Sodium, or salt, can increase blood pressure. Limiting sodium intake can help to lower blood pressure.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day, and an ideal limit is closer to 1,500 milligrams per day for most adults.
Reduce alcohol consumption: Drinking too much alcohol can increase blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends that men should have no more than two drinks per day, and women should have no more than one drink per day.
Quit smoking: Smoking can increase blood pressure. Quitting smoking can help to lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke.
Take medication as prescribed: If prescribed medication to lower blood pressure, it is important to take it as prescribed by a healthcare provider.
Skipping or forgetting to take medication can lead to higher blood pressure and increase the risk of serious health problems.
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The study was presented at the American Physiology Summit.
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