According to a report from the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP), hypertension (high blood pressure) can contribute to heart disease and is affected by an individual’s physical activity level and lifestyle habits. But does walking itself it lower blood pressure?
A Cochrane review evaluating 73 randomized controlled trials, including 5,763 patients, walking lowers systolic blood pressure by an average of 4.11 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 1.79 mm Hg.
Walking also lowers a resting heart rate by 2.76 beats per minute.
The findings of this review suggest that a walking regimen — three to five times a week at a moderate intensity for 20 to 40 minutes per session, with at least 150 total minutes per week for approximately three months — can lower systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure, and heart rate in adult men and women with or without hypertension.
These findings support guidelines for the management of hypertension in adults as established by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence and the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology, which recommend that lifestyle interventions be included as part of a hypertension treatment plan.
The AAFP says, “Walking can be a relatively easy and affordable way to incorporate lifestyle changes and potentially lower blood pressure.”
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