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Moderate exercise helps heart

27th August 2009

Even low levels of weekly exercise can drive down blood pressure and boost overall fitness, according to new research.

The research reveals that even 30 minutes of moderate exercise, three times a week, can significantly lower blood pressure and increase fitness levels.

Over 100 healthy but sedentary civil servants between the ages of 40 and 60 took part in the study, which involved adopting an exercise programme for 12 weeks, with no changes in diet.

The group was divided into three: one group was assigned 30 minutes of brisk walking for five days a week and another group 30 minutes of brisk walking for three days a week.

The remaining people in the study were not asked to change their current lifestyle.

Pedometers were used to help participants monitor their walking and every participant recorded how long they walked for.

The researchers, from the Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research Institute at the University of Ulster, recorded blood pressure, blood cholesterol, weight, hip and waist girth, and overall fitness at the start and finish of the 12-week study.

Their findings showed that systolic blood pressure and waist and hip girth fell significantly in both groups of walkers. Overall fitness also increased.

"The findings show that moderate intensity physical exercise below the recommended levels (30 minutes of moderately strenuous exercise on at least five days of the week), still makes a difference to health."

Medical experts say falls of a few millimetres in blood pressure and shrinkage of a few centimetres in hip and waist circumference are enough to make a difference to an your risk of dying from a cardiovascular disease.

The study was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.


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