Want a simple way to maintain blood pressure and cut your risk of heart disease in half? A study by Arizona State University
suggests the answer is short bursts of activity, rather than an intense prolonged workout.
The study followed a group of volunteers with high blood pressure, also known as prehypertension. High blood pressure is a common condition in Australia and can lead to heart disease and stroke. Thankfully, prehypertension has been shown to respond well to physical activity, although many studies are based on 30 minutes of uninterrupted exercise, the daily recommended amount.
Glenn Gaesser, lead author and director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center
at Arizona State University
, asked volunteers to walk briskly for ten minutes, three times during the day. On another day, volunteers walked at the same pace for 30 minutes, and then on a different day did no exercise at all.
The study found that breaking up a workout into three small bursts of activity was far more effective at lowering blood pressure than a single half hour session. Participants had a lower 24-hour blood pressure reading after the fractionalised exercise and showed a lower ‘load,’ which indicates the blood pressure is less likely to progress.
“That’s good news for people who struggle to find the time to be active and means that it could be easier than you think to get your recommended 30 minutes of daily activity,” said Dr Robert Grenfell, Clinical Issues Director at the Heart Foundation
. This study is also useful in proving that small changes to an exercise routine, such as opting for the stairs rather than elevator, are an effective means to maintain good health. Related content:
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