The study found how much exercise you need per week to control your blood pressure

The study found how much exercise you need per week to control your blood pressure

When it comes to exercising for heart health, you don’t want to hit your peak too early in life. Recent research suggests that if you want to protect yourself from high blood pressure as you age, you need to play the long game and keep your exercise levels high into middle age.

But social factors can make this more difficult for some people than others, according to a study of more than 5,000 people in four US cities.

“Teenagers and those in their early 20s may be physically active but these patterns change with age,” study author and epidemiologist Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) explained in April 2021, when the study was published in the journal Science. the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Many studies have shown that exercise lowers blood pressure, but the new research suggests that “maintaining physical activity during early adulthood — at higher levels than previously recommended — may be particularly important” for preventing high blood pressure, Pippins-Domingo said. .

High blood pressure, also known as high blood pressure, is a serious condition that affects billions of people worldwide. It can lead to heart attack and stroke. It is also a risk factor for developing dementia later in life.

According to the World Health Organization, more than one in four men and about one in five women have high blood pressure. But most people with high blood pressure don’t even know they have it, which is why it’s often called the “silent killer.”

However, there are ways to combat high blood pressure: Exercise is the focus of this study.

More than 5,100 adults were recruited for the study, which tracked their health over three decades through physical assessments and questionnaires about their exercise habits, smoking status, and alcohol intake.

At each clinical assessment, blood pressure was measured three times, one minute apart, and for data analysis, participants were grouped into four categories, by race and gender.

Across the board – among men and women and in both ethnic groups – physical activity levels declined from ages 18 to 40, With rising rates of high blood pressure and decreased physical activity over subsequent decades.

According to the researchers, this suggests that young adulthood is an important window for intervention to prevent high blood pressure in middle age through health promotion programs designed to promote exercise.

Lead author Jason Nagata, an expert at the University of California, San Francisco, said: ‘Nearly half of the participants in adulthood had suboptimal levels of physical activity, which was significantly associated with the onset of high blood pressure, suggesting that we need to raise levels of physical activity. Minimum standards for physical activity. Young adult medicine.

When researchers looked at people who did five hours of moderate exercise per week during early adulthood — double the current minimum recommended for adults — they found that this level of activity significantly reduced the risk of high blood pressure, especially if people continued to exercise. Sports. Habits until the age of sixty

“Achieve at least twice the current adult minimum [physical activity] “Guidelines may be more useful for preventing high blood pressure than simply meeting minimum guidelines,” the researchers wrote in their paper.

But it’s not easy to increase weekly physical activity amid life-changing decisions and increasing responsibilities.

“This may be especially the case after high school when opportunities for physical activity diminish as youth transition to college, the workforce, parenthood, and the erosion of leisure time,” Nagata said.

As for another alarming fact, the study also showed how Black men and Black women face very different health trajectories compared to their white counterparts. At age 40, physical activity levels stabilized among white men and women, while activity levels among black participants continued to decline.

By age 45, black women surpassed white men in rates of high blood pressure, while white women in the study experienced the lowest rates of high blood pressure during middle age.

By age 60, 80 to 90 percent of black men and women had high blood pressure, compared with less than 70 percent of white men and about half of white women.

The research team attributed these known racial disparities to a large number of social and economic factors. These factors were not assessed in this study, although secondary school education was noted.

“Although young black males may have high participation in sports, socioeconomic factors, neighborhood environments, and work or family responsibilities may prevent continued participation in physical activity throughout adulthood,” Nagata said.

The study was published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

A previous version of this article was published in April 2021.

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