Hypertension and Exercise Research Note
By Reader's Digest Editors
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A brisk, 30-minute walk most days of the week is a powerful, drug-free way to keep the lid on high blood pressure. Research shows that moderate-intensity activities can reduce high blood pressure readings by a whopping 6 to 10 points. And if your levels are in the normal range, exercise can reduce your risk for developing hypertension by 27%, another study suggests. Nobody’s sure just how physical activity works its magic, but experts suspect it strengthens the heart and alters hormones and insulin levels in ways that help arteries relax. People who don’t get regular physical activity are 35% more likely to develop high blood pressure than those who do.Fast Facts:
- Three or four 10-minute walks a day may lower blood pressure as well or better than one continuous work-out, one study suggests.
- Adopting a moderate-paced exercise routine helped half of the people in one study discontinue their blood pressure drugs. (Never stop drugs without talking with your doctor).
- Relaxing routines such as yoga or tai chi may lower high blood pressure almost as effectively as a walk or aerobics class.
- Get kids active, too. The more time they spend in front of the TV, computer, or game system, the higher their risk for high blood pressure.
- Think beyond exercise. Gardening, heavy cleaning, hiking, dancing, splitting wood and playing with the kids can all help control blood pressure.
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