A team of researchers at Indiana University have conducted a study which has revealed that individuals suffering from blood pressure can benefit a much greater deal by taking three to four brisk walks rather than spending time at the gymnasium working out.
The study which was conducted by a team of researchers at Indiana University was led by Janet P. Wallace, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the IU School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.
As a part of the study, the researchers compared the effect of accumulated versus continuous physical activity on prehypertension, a high blood pressure level that usually develops into hypertension or high blood pressure and can only be treated only with diet and exercise.
The randomized crossover study involved 15 men and five women with prehypertension.
Uncontrolled, high blood pressure can increase a person’s risk for heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and blindness.
They found that both forms of exercise, accumulated and continuous, decreased study participants’ blood pressure by the same amount – a discovery that Wallace admits left them surprised.
“We had no idea the short bouts would be better. Most studies found in the literature report the long, continuous session as more effective for many variables,” she said.
Blood pressure measures how hard and efficiently the heart pumps blood through the body and is measured in millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). Systolic blood pressure reflects how hard the heart works when it pumps blood while diastolic blood pressure reflects the resistance to the blood when the heart is not pumping.
A person has prehypertension when the systolic blood pressure ranges from 120-139 mm Hg or the diastolic pressure ranges from 80-89 mm Hg.
The researchers found that on average, the patients’ systolic blood pressure dropped 5.4-5.6 mm Hg and their diastolic blood pressure dropped 3.2 mm Hg.
The drop is significant because a reduction of 5 mm Hg in systolic blood pressure has been reported to substantially reduce mortality and to reduce the incidence of stroke and coronary heart disease.