A little exercise plus following the DASH diet leads to a remarkable reduction in blood pressure and weight loss, a study has found.
Lifestyle change is a powerful way to reduce the need for antihypertensive drugs in overweight or obese people.
The study involved a group of overweight and obese adults who had high blood pressure.
They were put on a 16-week program consisting of the DASH diet plus weight management and exercise.
The subjects’ blood pressure was between 130/80 mmHg to 160/99 mmHg but none were on any hypertension treatment.
They focused on the DASH diet with the help of the study nutritionist, attended exercise sessions 3 times a week and a cognitive behavioral weight loss treatment session each week.
‘DASH’ stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), a diet designed to fight high blood pressure.
The DASH diet involves eating lots of fruit, vegetables and whole grains and also includes fish, poultry, nonfat or low fat dairy, nuts, seeds, legumes, and vegetable oils.
In the exercise sessions participants warmed up for 10 minutes, then they were engaged in 30 minutes high-intensity aerobic activities like biking or jogging, followed by a 5 minute cool-down workout.
After 16 weeks of following the plan, participants lost 8.7 kg (19 pounds), and saw a 16 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure and a 10 mmHg reduction in diastolic blood pressure.
Those who were only on the DASH diet plan saw a reduction of 11 mmHg in systolic and 8 mmHg in diastolic blood pressure but only lost 0.3 kg of weight.
Dr Alan Hinderliter, the study’s first author, said:
“Lifestyle modifications, including healthier eating and regular exercise, can greatly decrease the number of patients who need blood pressure-lowering medicine.
That’s particularly the case in folks who have blood pressures in the range of 130 to 160 mmHg systolic and between 80 and 99 mmHg diastolic.”
The purpose of this study was to find out whether the DASH diet alone or combined with aerobic exercises could lower cardiovascular risk factors such as blood pressure.
These results confirmed that a lifestyle modification that includes a healthy diet combined with physical fitness and cognitive behavioural weight management plan would result in an impressive amount of weight loss and a decrease in blood pressure.
About the author
Mina Dean is a Nutritionist and Food Scientist. She holds a BSc in Human Nutrition and an MSc in Food Science.
The study was presented at the American Heart Association’s Joint Hypertension 2018 Scientific Sessions.