Five hours of exercise per week required 'to avoid high blood pressure'

·2-min read

A new study has suggested that meeting the minimum exercise guidelines isn't enough to reduce the chance of developing high blood pressure.

Current guidelines in the U.S. advise adults to spend a minimum of two-and-a-half hours on moderate-intensity exercise each week to stay fit and healthy, however, a new study led by the University of California, San Francisco's Benioff Children's Hospitals has shown that boosting exercise to as much as five hours a week may protect against hypertension, or high blood pressure, in midlife - particularly if this amount of exercise is sustained in a person's thirties, forties and fifties.

The researchers followed more than 5,000 adults aged between 18 to 30 for 30 years, with them answering questions on their exercise habits and having their blood pressure, weight, and cholesterol levels monitored.

Analysing the 17.9 per cent of participants who did moderate exercise for at least five hours a week during early adulthood - double the recommended minimum - they found that the likelihood of developing hypertension was 18 per cent lower than those who exercised less than five hours a week.

Furthermore, the likelihood was even lower for the 11.7 per cent of participants who kept up their exercise habits until the age of 60.

"Results from randomised controlled trials and observational studies have shown that exercise lowers blood pressure, suggesting that it may be important to focus on exercise as a way to lower blood pressure in all adults as they approach middle age," said senior author Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, of the UCSF Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics.

"Teenagers and those in their early twenties may be physically active but these patterns change with age. Our study suggests that maintaining physical activity during young adulthood - at higher levels than previously recommended - may be particularly important."

The findings have been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.