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Jan 16, 2015

Increased Fitness Lowers Risk of Hypertension

Fitness level is a strong predictor of high blood pressure, according to a recent study.

Fitness may be a strong predictor of high blood pressure, according to a study linking increased fitness levels to reduced risk of hypertension.

Hypertension, often referred to as high blood pressure, is a potentially life-threatening condition that affects one in three U.S. adults. Not only does high blood pressure often cause no symptoms, it drastically increases risk of heart diseaseheart attack and stroke. The good news is that regular physical activity helps promote a healthy blood pressure and according to research, the more fit you are, the lower your blood pressure may be.

Published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, this study tested the fitness levels of more than 57,200 individuals participating in The Henry Ford Exercise Testing Project, which studied the relationship between fitness and heart health. Using treadmill stress tests, researchers tested the fitness level of participants between 1991 and 2009, and then collected key health information, including blood pressure, for roughly four-and-a-half years.

At the beginning of the study, researchers found that individuals with the lowest level of fitness were 70% more likely to already have high blood pressure compared to those with the highest fitness level. And after follow-up, researchers found that individuals with the highest fitness level were 20% less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those with the lowest fitness level. Perhaps most importantly, these associations remained true regardless of age, sex, race, and weight.

Based on their findings, authors believe that being fit can have significant health benefits, even among adults that are overweight or obese. In general, fitness is an indicator of how much a person exercises so the more active a person is, the more fit they will be. And as this study shows, being fit can lower your risk of high blood pressure both now and in the future.

Questions for You to Consider

  • How much exercise do I need?
  • Regular physical activity is important for both children and adults. According to the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans:

    • Children and adolescents should get 60 minutes or more of physical activity daily.
    • Optimum exercise levels for adults includes:
      • 150 minutes of moderate-intensity or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise (or a combination of the two) each week.
      • Activity spread across the week with periods of aerobic exercise of at least 10 minutes at a time.
      • Muscle strengthening activities 2 or more days a week.
  • What is fitness?
  • In general, fitness refers to being physically sound and healthy as a result of regular exercise. There are three kinds of fitness, including aerobic (strengthening the heart and lungs), muscle strengthening (building muscle) and flexibility (stretching the muscles). Finding a balance between the three to achieve the best possible fitness is important for good health.

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