US study reveals how much you need to exercise weekly to control your blood pressure

By Jurassic JennJun 18, 2024 13:12 PMScience
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How much to exercise weekly to prevent strokes. Source: www.newsweek.com

Maintaining consistent exercise levels throughout one's life contributes significantly to blood pressure control, suggests recent research. A study conducted across four cities in the United States sheds light on the social factors that can hinder individuals from sustaining their exercise habits and the implications for their blood pressure. The study, led by epidemiologist Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo from the University of California, San Francisco, emphasizes the need for increased physical activity levels during young adulthood to prevent hypertension. This finding is particularly relevant due to the health risks associated with high blood pressure, including heart attack, stroke, and a higher likelihood of developing dementia later in life. This is prepared by SSP.

The research, which gathered data from over 5,000 participants over thirty years, revealed a decline in physical activity levels between the ages of 18 and 40 across genders and racial groups. Simultaneously, rates of hypertension increased during subsequent decades. This suggests that targeting young adults with interventions focused on promoting exercise is crucial to preventing midlife hypertension. Lead author Jason Nagata stresses the need to elevate the minimum standard for physical activity, as almost half of the participants did not meet optimal levels during young adulthood, leading to an increased risk of hypertension.

Interestingly, the study indicates that even higher exercise levels than those currently recommended for adults offer greater benefits in hypertension prevention. Specifically, engaging in at least five hours of moderate exercise per week during early adulthood significantly lowers the risk of hypertension, especially when maintained until the age of 60. The researchers suggest that doubling the current minimum adult physical activity guidelines could yield better outcomes for blood pressure control.

However, as life circumstances change and responsibilities grow, incorporating regular physical activity into one's routine can be challenging. Transitioning to college, starting careers, and becoming parents often result in reduced leisure time and fewer opportunities for exercise. Young adults, in particular, face these constraints in increasing their weekly physical activity levels.

Moreover, the study identified contrasting health trajectories for Black and White participants. While physical activity levels plateaued for White men and women around the age of 40, activity levels continued to decline for Black participants. By age 45, the prevalence of hypertension surpassed that of White men in Black women, indicating a significant discrepancy. At age 60, approximately 80 to 90 percent of Black men and women had hypertension, compared to just under 70 percent for White men and around 50 percent for White women.

The study suggests that various social and economic factors contribute to these well-documented racial disparities in blood pressure outcomes. Neighborhood environments, socioeconomic background, and work and family responsibilities likely hinder sustained engagement in physical activity among Black individuals, even though Black male youth may initially participate in sports at high rates.

These findings underscore the importance of exercise in managing blood pressure, starting from young adulthood. Implementing health promotion programs designed to establish and maintain exercise habits during this critical period can significantly impact long-term cardiovascular health. As individuals face life transitions, it becomes imperative to find ways to prioritize physical activity and overcome barriers to maintaining an active lifestyle. Additionally, increasing awareness of the disparities in blood pressure outcomes among racial groups is crucial for addressing the underlying social and economic factors that contribute to them.

In conclusion, consistent physical exercise throughout life plays a vital role in controlling blood pressure. By facilitating higher activity levels during young adulthood and addressing racial disparities, individuals can proactively protect their cardiovascular health for years to come.

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