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Exercise with High Blood Pressure Doesn't Hurt Heart


Updated September 05, 2013

Senior Walker on Treadmill

Senior Walker on Treadmill

A Bello / Getty ©
If you are a senior with high blood pressure, you might be afraid that exercise could make things worse. But a study by Johns Hopkins University showed that moderate exercise produced no ill effects in seniors with untreated mild high blood pressure. In fact, they had the good benefits of better fitness and a loss of abdominal body fat.

Exercise OK with High Blood Pressure

The study group participants were aged 55 to 75 and they worked out for an hour at a time, three times a week, at activities such as treadmill, bicycle, stepper, plus weightlifting. While blood pressure naturally rises during exercise, at the end of 6 months the group's heart functions showed no ill effects.

Exercise Produced Good Health Effects

The study participants showed an improvement in heart measures as they gained aerobic fitness and as they lost abdominal body fat, both produced by the exercise. The group that exercised lost 20% of their abdominal body fat, while a control group that didn't exercise lost no abdominal body fat.

How to Start Walking

One of the best ways to begin to be active is to start a walking program. Get a check-up and discuss any physical or medical limitations with your doctor. Chances are good your prescription for health will include a walking program. We have free programs to get you started.
  • Let's Get Walking: Our program for absolute beginners. It takes you from zero to walking 30 minutes a day most days of the week.
  • Walk of Life 10-Week Program: Our program of walking and weight loss, with healthy recipe, daily walking and exercise assignments.


K J Stewart, P Ouyang, A C Bacher, S Lima and E P Shapiro. "Exercise effects on cardiac size and left ventricular diastolic function: relationships to changes in fitness, fatness, blood pressure and insulin resistance" Heart 2006;92:893-898.

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