High blood pressure is a worldwide problem and if left untreated, dangerous consequences could ensue – such as heart attack or stroke. Leading health experts advise making one particular change which can slash your risk by 19 percent.
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Researchers pooled results from 13 studies on the effects of physical activity on blood pressure.
The studies involved 136,846 people in the United States, Europe or East Asia who initially had healthy blood pressure.
More than 15,600 later developed high blood pressure during follow-up periods ranging from two to 45 years.
People who exercised more than four hours per week in their leisure time had a 19 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than those who exercised less than one hour per week.
People who had one to three hours per week of leisure exercise had an 11 percent lower risk than those with under an hour of activity.
The Mayo Clinic said: “Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger.
“A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort.
“If you heart can work less to pump, the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure.
“Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure – the top number in a blood pressure reading – by an average of four to nine millimetres of mercury.
“That’s as good as some blood pressure medications.”
Physical activity does cause the blood pressure to rise for a short amount of time (while exercising).
However, regular aerobic exercise enables the heart to become stronger and more efficient at pumping blood.
This, as a result, lowers the blood pressure in the arteries.
Great examples of aerobic exercise are walking, jogging and gardening.
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Blood Pressure UK said: “Aerobic activity offers the greatest health benefit for high blood pressure.
“If you have high blood pressure, you should try to focus on activities that will help your heart and blood vessels.
“Aerobic activities are repetitive and rhythmic movements (exercises), and they use the large muscle groups of your body, such as those in your legs, shoulders and arms.”
Walking, jogging, swimming, dancing and digging are typical examples of aerobic activities.
The NHS advised aiming for at least 150 minutes of physical activity every week to keep health risks at bay.
The best way to detect if you have high blood pressure is to keep track of your blood pressure readings.
Having your blood pressure checked at each doctor’s visit or use a home blood pressure monitor will keep you abreast of where it is.
If a person already has high blood pressure, home monitoring can let them know if their fitness routine is helping to lower their reading, and may make it so you don’t need to visit a doctor to have your reading checked.
On top of exercise, a healthy diet with minimal salt and processed foods will help to lower your reading.
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