Almost 50 million Americans suffer from high blood pressure
(BP), and cardiovascular disease has been the primary cause
of death in the U.S. for over 80 years. Studies show that
reducing BP reduces risk for heart disease and death, even
when lowered by only a small amount. Medications have been
shown to lower risk for cardiovascular disease, but because
they may have dangerous side effects, aerobic exercise alone
can be prescribed to lower BP.
find out if exercise can reduce BP in all groups of people,
the authors of a recent review in the Annals of Internal
Medicine examined the results of more than 50 previous
studies. They combined the results of these studies (involving
a total of about 2,500 individuals) to determine the effectiveness
of exercise to reduce BP in various groups, and to determine
if specific types of exercise are more effective than others.
Any form of aerobic exercise significantly reduced BP in
every type of previously sedentary person, regardless of race,
gender, weight, and presence of hypertension (high BP). Frequency
and intensity of exercise also did not appear to significantly
Even a small decrease in average BP can dramatically lower
your risk for cardiovascular disease and death. Whether or
not you currently have high blood pressure, maintain a consistent
regimen of aerobic exercise to ward off disease, premature
death, and obesity.
Whelton SP, Chin A, Xin X, et al. Effect of aerobic exercise
on blood pressure: A meta-analysis of randomized, controlled
trials. Annals of Internal Medicine 2002:136(7), pp.
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