According to research, if there is a parental history of high blood pressure, risk of developing the disease can be significantly reduced with moderate exercise.
In a study of over 6,000 people, those who had a parent with high blood pressure but were highly fit had a 34% lower risk of getting high blood pressure themselves, in comparison to those with a low-fitness level who had the same parental history.
The outcomes of this research sends a very useful message, which is that even a moderate amount of exercise, which is defined as brisk walking for 150 minutes each week, can provide a tremendous health benefit, especially to individuals predisposed to high blood pressure because of their family history.
Previous research shows that parental history is the reason for about 35% to 65% of the variation in blood pressure in offspring, and varying levels of risk dependant on which parent developed it as well as the age of onset.
Researchers followed a group of 6,278 20 – 80 year old individuals for an average 4.7 years. 33% of individuals reported that a parent had high blood pressure.
When the study began, all individuals were healthy, reported no clinical diagnosis of high blood pressure, and had an exercise test score of a minimum of 85% of their age-predicted maximal heart rate. The scientists determined their cardio respiratory fitness making use of a maximal treadmill exercise test.
In the course of the study, 1,545 individuals reported they had developed high blood pressure.
Researchers found that:
- In individuals without and with a family history of high blood pressure, high fitness levels were associated with a 42% reduced risk of getting high blood pressure, and moderate fitness levels with a 26% lower risk.
- Individuals with both a low fitness level and a parent with high blood pressure had a 70% higher risk for getting high blood pressure in comparison to highly fit individuals with no parental history.
- Individuals with a high fitness level and a parent with high blood pressure experienced only a 16% higher risk of getting high blood pressure in comparison to individuals who were fit and had no parental history.
The study results may not apply to all individuals due to the fact that most of the study participants were relatively fit men.
The results support the recommendations by the American Heart Association of moderately intense exercise like brisk walking, for half an hour or more at least 5 days every week.