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High blood pressure is a common condition that affects more than a quarter of all adults in the UK. But you could lower your risk of developing hypertension with certain activities at home, it’s been claimed.
Researchers gathered 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 per cent 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 per cent lower risk than those with under an hour of activity.
The findings suggest that the more recreational physical activity you get, the more you are protected from developing high blood pressure.
“Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease – thus, it is important to prevent and control hypertension,” said Wei Ma, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and associate professor at the Shandong University School of Public Health in Jinan, China.
Dr Ma added: “To try to lower your risk of high blood pressure, you should exercise more in your leisure time.”
Researchers didn’t find a solid link between physical exertion at work and risk of high blood pressure.
Health guidelines urging people to get more exercise don’t distinguish between activity at work and for leisure, said Bo Xi, M.D., Ph.D., lecturer at the Shandong University School of Public Health in Jinan, China, and a co-author with Ma. But “given the new findings, perhaps they should.”
Recreational exercise may affect several factors tied to high blood pressure – helping people keep off extra pounds, improving poor insulin sensitivity or reducing the blood vessels’ resistance to blood flow, Ma said.
Dancing is an aerobic activity that is ideal to lower your blood pressure, according to charity Blood Pressure UK.
Aerobic exercises include those that use rhythmic movements and use a number of muscles throughout the body.
They’re particularly helpful in protecting the heart and blood vessels.
As well as dancing, other types of aerobic activity include jogging and swimming.
“Different kinds of exercise and activity have different effects on your body,” said the charity.
“If you have high blood pressure, you should try to focus on activities that will help your heart and blood vessels. Aerobic activity is the type that helps your heart the most.
“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 all aerobic activities.”
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