People with elevated blood pressure and cholesterol advised to sit less and move more

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Health experts have suggested that people with elevated blood pressure and cholesterol should be given a "prescription" to sit less and move more.

Officials from the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement in its journal Hypertension on Wednesday in which it suggested that this so-called "prescription" is the optimal first treatment choice for reducing mild to moderately elevated blood pressure and blood cholesterol in otherwise healthy adults.

"The current American Heart Association guidelines for diagnosing high blood pressure and cholesterol recognize that otherwise healthy individuals with mildly or moderately elevated levels of these cardiovascular risk factors should actively attempt to reduce these risks. The first treatment strategy for many of these patients should be healthy lifestyle changes beginning with increasing physical activity," said Bethany Barone Gibbs, chair of the statement writing group.

Increased physical activity results in clinically meaningful reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure, while similar improvements are seen with blood cholesterol. Research has also shown that physically active people have a 21 per cent lower risk of developing cardiovascular disease and a 36 per cent lower risk of death from cardiovascular diseases compared to those who aren't.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommend either a cumulative 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise, or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, per week, as well as two or more strength training sessions each week.

Gibbs has insisted there is no minimum amount of time, as even small increases of five to 10 minutes of exercise per day can yield health benefits.

"In our world where physical activity is increasingly engineered out of our lives and the overwhelming default is to sit - and even more so now as the nation and the world is practicing quarantine and isolation to reduce the spread of coronavirus - the message that we must be relentless in our pursuit to 'sit less and move more' throughout the day is more important than ever," said Gibbs.