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Short Brisk Walks Help Blood Pressure


Updated September 05, 2013

Wendy Bumgardner © 2012
Is your blood pressure creeping up? According to a study in the September 2006 issue of the Journal of Hypertension, taking short, brisk 10-minute walks four times a day can decrease your blood pressure for 11 hours. Taking a 40-minute continuous walk can keep it down for seven hours.

Prehypertension? Get Walking!

Those who participated in the study had prehypertension -- elevated blood pressure that often progresses to high blood pressure (hypertension). Uncontrolled high blood pressure increases your risk of heart attack, kidney failure, and stroke. Prehypertension can be treated with diet and exercise.

The study involved 15 men and 5 women with prehypertension. One day, they were assigned to walk for 40 continuous minutes on a treadmill. On another day, they walked 4 times for 10 minutes over the course of 3.5 hours. Their systolic blood pressure dropped 5.4 to 5.6 mm Hg, a reduction significant enough to reduce their risk of stroke and heart disease.

Fit in Brisk, 10-Minute Walks

Many people say they don't have time for a 30 to 60-minute continuous workout during the day. But most people can fit in shorter walks on their way to and from work or school, and during breaks and lunches. (Perhaps "4 a Day" for short, 10-minute walks needs to be a health promotion.)
Get the Most From a 15-Minute Walk

Are Longer Walks Better or Not?

The study found that either one long or several short walks throughout the day have benefit. This result was surprising to the researchers, who noted that other studies found that longer exercise sessions have better health effects. The debate over whether total daily steps v. continuous exercise is better rages on. Still, it has only winners -- whether you get in the steps in several bouts throughout the day or in one big session, it's all good! Exercising alone can reduce your risk.


Park, Saejong a; Rink, Lawrence D b; Wallace, Janet P. Accumulation of physical activity leads to a greater blood pressure reduction than a single continuous session, in prehypertension. Journal of Hypertension. September 2006, 24:9.

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