High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is a medical condition that’s affecting more and more adults worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, approximately 1.28 billion people between the ages of 30 and 79 are suffering from high blood pressure. The statistics are quite alarming in the United States. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of the adult population (more precisely 47% or 116 million) has been diagnosed with hypertension.
Having a high blood pressure means that you’re exposing yourself to major health risks, such as heart attack, stroke, aneurysm, as well as kidney and eye problems. Fortunately there are lifestyle choices you can make to prevent or properly manage this condition. What should you do? Well, you should embrace a healthy diet, maintain a normal weight, reduce the consumption of alcohol, quit smoking and, truly important, engage in constant physical activity. You need to exercise to lower high blood pressure and enjoy a healthy life.
Exercise doesn’t automatically imply HIIT workouts. A simple activity like walking can be truly rewarding for both your physical and mental health. Walking is a great form of exercise because it’s easy to do, it doesn’t require certain physical abilities and it’s low-impact, meaning it puts less pressure on your joints. Among many others, going for a stroll on a regular basis can help you lose weight, strengthen your bones and muscles, improve digestion, boost immunity and, of course, keep blood pressure under control.
The Link Between Walking and Hypertension
The relationship between regular walking and blood pressure is not just theoretical. It has been scientifically proven across the years by various studies.
Japanese researchers analyzed the effects of walking on hypertensive patients. During a 12-week program, the researchers measured the daily step count of 730 adult males with the aid of a pedometer. According to the results, taking 10.000 steps or more each day, regardless of the pace and duration, can reduce blood pressure levels, improve exercise capacity and decrease sympathetic nerve activity.
A 2018-study examined the impact of walking on hypertension levels in sedentary patients with various degrees of systolic blood pressure (SBP). 529 males and females, with SBP over 120 mm Hg, took part in a 6-month program of supervised walking sessions. The trial, which was completed by approximately half of the initial participants, showed that patients manifested a decrease in their SBP values. The interesting fact is that the decrease was more prominent for subjects with a more elevated SBP, more specifically over 160 mm Hg.
A different research, conducted by professors from Shinhan University in South Korea, aimed to assess the effects of brisk walking and square dancing on middle-aged females suffering from hypertension. The intervention involved 40-60 minute workout sessions/day, 5 days/week for a total of 16 weeks. At the end of the program, scientists reached the same conclusion. Walking can lower blood pressure and, in addition, lead to improvements in your low density lipoprotein cholesterol (the bad cholesterol), body weight and BMI.
In case you needed more proof, a 2021-review analyzed 73 controlled trials, carried out in 22 countries, to determine the effects of walking interventions on hypertension. The authors of this systematic review concluded that this simple form of exercise can indeed reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure for both men and women, regardless of their age.
Why and How to Track your Walks
We’ve seen that walking is great for your health. To make the most of your walks, it’s advisable to start tracking them. This will give you a sense of accountability and help you stay active. Seeing how much you’re actually walking and receiving useful fitness data will motivate you even more to move forward and reach your health goals.
In order to track your physical activity you don’t need to purchase an additional gadget. Simply install a pedometer app like our own ActivityTracker and you’re all set. The app will automatically record your movement and provide info regarding your step count, the distance covered, calories burned or active minutes. You’ll get the chance to set a personal goal for the fitness metric desired and track your progress in detail, with data for your hourly, daily, weekly and monthly activity.
If you want to reduce hypertension, it’s mandatory to start exercising. But exercising doesn’t mean you have to lift heavy weights, do push-ups or run at a higher pace. No, medical studies have shown that it’s enough to walk to lower blood pressure. A simple exercise like walking can do the trick. The key though is to be active each day, not every once in a while. Create a routine and go for a 30-minute walk daily in order to reap the benefits.