Thirty minutes of exercise in the morning may be just as effective as prescription medication for lowering blood pressure for both older men and women who are overweight and obese.
That’s the result of scientific research conducted the University of Western Australia published in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension.
“Traditionally, the health benefits of exercise and sedentary behavior have been studied separately,” says Michael Wheeler, lead author of the study. “We conducted this study because we wanted to known whether there is a combined effect on these behaviors on blood pressure.”
To conduct the study, the researchers had 67 participants take part in three different scenarios. The 35 women and 32 men, aged 55 to 80, who were either overweight or obese, took part in three different 8-hour plans, in random order, with at least six days between each one. The study was conducted in a laboratory to standardize the results, and the participants ate the same meals the evening before the study and during the day.
According to Science Daily, the first plan consisted of uninterrupted sitting for eight hours, while the second plan consisted of one hour of sitting before 30 minutes on the treadmill at moderate intensity following by 6.5 hours of sitting down.
The third plan was one hour of sitting before 30 minutes of treadmill walking, followed by 6.5 hours of sitting down which was interrupted every 30 minutes with three minutes of walking at a light intensity
Experts measured blood pressure and heart rate to assess adrenalin levels throughout each eight-hour plan.
The researchers found that the average blood pressure, especially systolic blood pressure, in men and women was reduced in those who took part in the morning exercise plan compared to when they did not exercise. There was further significant benefit for women when they combined morning exercise with frequents breaks during the day. For men, there was no additional benefit to taking frequent breaks from sitting.
“For both men and women, the magnitude of reduction of systolic blood pressure following exercise and breaks in sitting approached what might be expected from anti-hypertensive medication in this populairon to reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. However, this reduction was greater for women.
“As the proportion of those who are overweight with higher blood pressure increases with age, adopting a strategy of combining exercise with breaks in sitting may be important to control and prevent the development of high blood pressure.”
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