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A little walking cuts blood pressure

If walking seems too simple to be an effective fitness method, think again: taking a stroll for 30 minutes is the easiest way to lower blood pressure, according to the Department of Sport Science, Tourism and Leisure, Canterbury Christ Church University.

Exercise science researchers have found that walking at a steady pace is a more effective way to reduce blood pressure than walking at maximum intensity.

Lead researcher Andrew Scott studied middle-aged men with borderline higher blood pressure after they walked at various intensities and durations, to determine which type of walking reduced blood pressure the most.

The participants' blood pressure responses were assessed following: 30 minutes of rest; walking at 50% effort for 30 minutes; walking at 65% effort for 30 minutes; and walking at 50% effort for 60 minutes, on four separate occasions. The participants' responses were studied during a 24-hour post-walk period.

The findings were that walking at 50% effort for 30 minutes was the most effective way to bring down the participants' blood pressure, compared to resting. It was also found that walking for 30 minutes at 50% effort was as effective as walking for 60 minutes at the same intensity.

Andrew Scott said: "Our study found that walking for longer than 30 minutes or at a more vigorous intensity had no additional effects on lowering blood pressure, however, those who also wish to lose weight may want to exercise for a longer period of time, but it will not contribute to a further reduction of blood pressure. Ultimately, our findings support the American College of Sports Medicine's recommendation that healthy adults should undertake at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on at least five days per week."

Canterbury Christ Church University

How many of your patients do you think take part in 30 minutes of exercise at least five days a week? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"Very few." - Lorna Paterson, Glasgow