In the U.S., approximately 80% of older adults suffer from high blood pressure, a condition posing risks for heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
A recent study led by Professor Linda Pescatello discovered that incorporating a modest amount of movement, specifically around 3,000 additional steps per day, can considerably alleviate high blood pressure in older adults.
This research is particularly vital, considering high blood pressure’s prevalence, and provides a simple and attainable intervention.
Professor Linda Pescatello, a hypertension and exercise specialist, along with a team from Iowa State University, focused their study on sedentary adults aged between 68 and 78 who initially walked an average of 4,000 steps daily.
Participants were encouraged to increase their daily steps to 7,000, aligning with the recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine.
Conducted amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the study utilized remote methods, providing participants with pedometers, blood pressure monitors, and step diaries.
This allowed the participants to monitor their daily walks and blood pressure independently.
Participants experienced a notable decrease in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure, averaging seven and four points, respectively.
These decreases equate to significant relative risk reductions in all-cause mortality, cardiovascular mortality, heart disease, and stroke.
Importantly, these improvements were observed even among participants already on anti-hypertensive medications, highlighting the supplemental benefits of added physical activity to medicinal interventions.
Conclusion and Implications
This research underscored that a mere increase in daily steps can offer health benefits comparable to structured exercise and some medications, emphasizing the value of exercise as a component of anti-hypertensive therapy.
The study’s findings are significant as they illustrate the benefits of a simple, accessible lifestyle intervention in managing high blood pressure, advocating for the incorporation of modest physical activity in the daily routines of older adults.
“It’s exciting that a simple lifestyle intervention can be just as effective as structured exercise and some medications,” says Elizabeth Lefferts, the lead author of the paper.
“It just speaks to the value of exercise as anti-hypertensive therapy. It’s not to negate the effects of medication at all, but it’s part of the treatment arsenal,” Professor Pescatello added.
If you care about high blood pressure, please read studies about a common and unrecognized cause of high blood pressure, and this small habit can greatly benefit people with high blood pressure, and cholesterol.
The research findings can be found in the Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease.
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