A thirty-minute walk in the morning significantly lowers blood pressure for the rest of the day, new research finds.
The beneficial effect is almost the same as taking blood pressure lowering medication.
Avoiding sitting for prolonged periods during the day also helps keep blood pressure down.
Standing up every now and then in the afternoon can also boost the benefit of morning exercise for women, the study found.
Mr Michael Wheeler, the study’s first author, said:
“Traditionally, the health effects of exercise and sedentary behavior have been studied separately.
We conducted this study because we wanted to know whether there is a combined effect of these behaviors on blood pressure.”
The study included 67 people aged 55 to 80, all of whom were overweight or obese.
Both systolic and diastolic blood pressure was reduced, the results showed.
Mr Wheeler said:
“For both men and women, the magnitude of reduction in average systolic blood pressure following exercise and breaks in sitting, approached what might be expected from antihypertensive medication in this population to reduce the risk of death from heart disease and stroke.
However, this reduction was greater for women.”
Mr Wheeler said:
“Having the study participants begin with exercise was intentional, because we wanted to focus on the novel aspect of combining exercise with breaks in sitting.
However, it means that we cannot say for sure that breaks in sitting alone had no blood pressure lowering effect in men, as any effect could have been masked by the preceding effect of exercise.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Hypertension (Wheeler et al., 2019).