One-in-five Americans wears a smartwatch and this gadget proves more effective than we might think.
Smartwatches or fitness tracker watches can be beneficial to heart health by encouraging people to exercise more.
A study shows that people walk more steps when they track their activity levels with their watch, which in turn is a useful tool for lowering blood pressure.
The research team assessed risk factors such as high blood pressure leading to cardiovascular disease.
About half of American adults have high blood pressure and many more who don’t know they have this condition are therefore left untreated.
High blood pressure can narrow and weaken the heart blood vessels and arteries around the kidneys, increasing the risk of heart or kidney failure.
In this study, participants had to wear an Apple Watch at least five hours a day and keep a record of their blood pressure.
The average diastolic blood pressure was 76 mm Hg and 122 mm Hg for systolic blood pressure which are considered normal to slightly elevated levels.
Dr Mayank Sardana, the study’s lead author, said:
“Measuring habitual physical activity in community-based settings in this way distinguishes our study from prior studies that have looked at either self-reported physical activity or used accelerometers to measure daily activity for only a short amount of time, usually about a week.”
The team found that for every 1,000 steps a day, subjects’ systolic blood pressure reduced by 0.45 points.
This means that people who walked 10,000 steps daily had 2.25 points lower systolic blood pressure than those taking 5,000 steps a day.
This level of reduction could be enough given that participants’ blood pressure levels were between normal and slightly high.
Dr Sardana said:
“This study solidifies our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and blood pressure and raises the possibility that obesity or body mass index accounts for a lot of that relationship.
Going forward, it would be useful to look at how smart devices might be leveraged to promote physical activity, reduce the burden of obesity and potentially reduce blood pressure.”
Over the five month study period, on average these subjects took 7,500 steps daily.
Those who walked more steps a day showed a significant greater reduction in their 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 College of Cardiology’s Annual Scientific Session Together with World Congress of Cardiology, March 2020.