Morning exercise with short walking breaks lowers blood pressure in older adults. The latest study revealed that at least 30 minutes of walking in the morning is enough to support healthy blood pressure throughout the day. Furthermore, taking frequent breaks throughout the day can improve blood pressure benefits from morning exercise.
The study looked at men and women aged 55 to 80 who were overweight or obese. Researchers aimed to uncover the effects that morning exercise and prolonged sitting had on blood pressure. Furthermore, they wanted to determine if frequent breaks throughout the day could enhance morning exercise benefits.
Lead author Dr. Michael Wheeler explained, “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 67 participants endured three different scenarios: Uninterrupted sitting for eight hours; one-hour sitting, 30-minute exercise, and 6.5 hours of sitting; and one-hour sitting followed by 30 minutes exercise and sitting that was interrupted every 30 minutes with three minutes of light intensity walking for 6.5 hours. Blood pressure and adrenaline were measured repeatedly throughout.
Blood pressure was found to be lower when participants exercised in the morning compared to when they did not. Bigger benefits were seen in women who not only exercised in the morning but also took frequent walking breaks. Men did not see extra benefits for taking frequent breaks.
Wheeler added, “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.”
Future research should examine if similar results occur in younger adults who are not overweight or obese. “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,” Wheeler concluded.
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