A prescription you can afford: A 30-minute walk every day can reduce your blood pressure as much as a pill
(Natural News) Even the slightest brush with high blood pressure can be enough to scare many people into taking blood pressure medication. After all, high blood pressure can lead to heart disease and raise your risk of heart attack or stroke. However, researchers have found an even better way to get your blood pressure under control, and it’s something you can start right now without a visit to your doctor.
Just half an hour of exercise each morning can be just as effective at lowering your blood pressure for the remainder of the day as medication. This is according to a study carried out by researchers from the University of Western Australia in Perth and published in the journal Hypertension. Thirty minutes of exercise might seem like a lot if you’re currently sedentary, but the good news is that it doesn’t have to be particularly strenuous to be effective.
In the study, a group of men and women aged 55 to 80 were assigned to follow three different plans, with at least six days of rest in between each one. The first one involved sitting uninterrupted for eight hours. The second entailed an hour of sitting before half an hour of moderate-intensity walking on a treadmill, followed by 6.5 hours of sitting. The third plan involved an hour of sitting before half an hour of treadmill walking much like the second plan, only the following 6.5 hours of sitting were interrupted every half hour with three minutes of light-intensity walking. The participants’ meals were all the same.
Both men and women who took part in the exercise plans enjoyed lower blood pressure compared to when they did not exercise, and the effect was particularly pronounced in terms of their systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading). This is a measure of the pressure within blood vessels as the heart beats and is considered a better predictor of heart problems than the measure of the pressure in blood vessels while the heart is at rest, which is known as diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number).
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The researchers concluded that the reduction in average systolic blood pressure after exercise was comparable to that seen when taking anti-hypertensive medication.
Although everyone enjoyed the benefits of exercise on their blood pressure readings, women also noted additional benefits when they were on the plan that added three-minute walks throughout the day; this effect was less pronounced in men. The researchers aren’t exactly sure what is causing the difference, but they believe it could be related to the adrenaline responses to exercise in men versus women.
All of the benefits, none of the risk
Swallowing a pill every day certainly requires a lot less effort than a half-hour walk or other exercise, but when you take blood pressure meds, you’re paying a price for that convenience in terms of your health. The side effects of the most common blood pressure pills include diarrhea, nervousness, weakness, constipation, drowsiness, nausea, headache, vomiting and erectile dysfunction. One type of blood pressure drug, beta blockers, has been linked to a higher death rate and an elevated diabetes risk. These meds can also increase your risk of a stroke dramatically.
Contrast this with moderate-intensity exercise like walking. Not only can it keep your blood presser in check, but it can also enhance your overall health, help with weight control, and boost your mood. Why take on the risks of blood pressure medications when a simple, natural and safe solution exists that benefits your mind, body and spirit?