Morning exercise and short breaks can lower blood pressure in older people

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A recent study from the University of Western Australia has shed new light on managing blood pressure, especially for older individuals who are overweight and lead a sedentary lifestyle.

The research suggests that a bit of morning exercise, coupled with short walking breaks throughout the day, can significantly lower blood pressure.

A Quick Refresher on Blood Pressure

Before diving into the study, let’s briefly discuss what blood pressure is. Imagine your heart as a pump and your arteries as hoses.

Your heart pumps blood through these arteries, and the force exerted on the artery walls is your blood pressure.

Doctors measure it using a cuff wrapped around your arm, providing two numbers: systolic (when your heart pumps blood) and diastolic (when your heart relaxes).

The Study Design

The researchers aimed to examine the impact of exercise and sitting breaks on blood pressure. They gathered 67 older adults who were generally inactive and had them undergo three different scenarios on separate days:

  1. Sitting continuously for eight hours.
  2. Taking a 30-minute moderate walk.
  3. Combining the 30-minute walk with short walking breaks during the eight-hour sitting period.

The Findings

The results indicated that compared to sitting alone, both exercise regimes helped lower average blood pressure over the eight-hour period.

Adding in short walking breaks lowered systolic blood pressure even more, by approximately 1.7 mm Hg.

Women seemed to benefit the most from this regimen, experiencing a 3.2 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure.

Additionally, levels of epinephrine—a chemical linked to stress and heart disease—decreased in women but slightly increased in men.

Implications for Personalized Health Strategies

The study led by Michael J. Wheeler reveals promising avenues for personalized health interventions.

Given that everyone is different, custom-tailored strategies might offer more effective ways to manage blood pressure and reduce heart disease risk in older adults, especially those who are overweight and inactive.

The study adds another layer to our understanding of how lifestyle adjustments can influence blood pressure and overall cardiovascular health.

It highlights the importance of not just exercise but also breaking up long sitting periods as a way to maintain a healthier blood pressure profile.

The results have been published in the journal Hypertension, making them a valuable contribution to ongoing research in this area.

If you care about blood pressure, please read studies about how diets could help lower high blood pressure, and 3 grams of omega-3s a day keep high blood pressure at bay.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies about how tea and coffee influence your risk of high blood pressure, and results showing this olive oil could reduce blood pressure in healthy people.

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