How Much Time to Spend Exercising to Prevent Hypertension, According to New Research

Figuring out how to fit workouts onto your already full calendar can feel like doing a quadratic equation. There are just so many variables to consider—your fitness goals and level of intensity being two big ones. But if you're mainly exercising to prevent hypertension (aka high blood pressure), then the math just got much easier. New research suggests that five hours, or 300 minutes, per week of moderate-intensity physical activity may be the best benchmark.

After following 5,000 young adults (ages 18 to 30) for 30 years, researchers found their chances of developing high blood pressure—negative side effects of which include heart attack and stroke, as well as dementia later in life—significantly declined if they managed to spend meet this minimum amount of exercise per week. FWIW, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recommends American adults complete up to five hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week in its physical activity guidelines. But that's twice as much as the minimum they recommend of 150 minutes or 2.5 hours. So, you may need to up your workout time if hypertension is a health condition you're hoping to address through exercise.

Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, MD, PhD, senior author for the study out of University of California–San Francisco's Benioff Children’s Hospitals, explains that young people tend to move more, but activity levels often taper off with age—which is when your chances of developing high blood pressure increase. "Our study suggests that maintaining physical activity during young adulthood—at higher levels than previously recommended—may be particularly important."

The key to reaping the rewards when it comes to hypertension is being consistent. In the study, the people who performed moderate exercise for at least five hours a week during early adulthood were 18-percent less likely to develop high blood pressure than those who exercised less. And, the likelihood became even lower for the 11.7 percent of people who maintained this activity level until age 60.

Although it can be more than challenging to find the time as you get older, this news is just one more good reason to finally figure out how to create a workout schedule once and for all.

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