Physical activity and incident hypertension in black and white adults: the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study

Prev Med. 1999 Mar;28(3):304-12. doi: 10.1006/pmed.1998.0431.


Background: The epidemiologic observation that physical activity reduces the risk for hypertension has only been made for white men who self-reported hypertension. This study examined physical activity and clinically determined incident hypertension in black and white men and women of the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study.

Methods: ARIC is a population-based prospective study with four U.S. clinic centers. The present analyses included 7,459 black and white adults 45-65 years of age. Hypertension (systolic/diastolic blood pressure >/= 140/90 mm Hg) was defined by blood pressure measured by a random-zero device or medication use. Physical activity was assessed with the Baecke questionnaire.

Results: After adjustment for age, baseline blood pressure, ARIC center, education, body mass index, waist-hip ratio, parental history of hypertension, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, and diet, white men in the highest quartile of leisure activity (primarily cycling and walking) had a 34% lower odds of developing hypertension over 6 years compared to the least active (OR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.47-0.94; P for quartile trend = 0.01). Baseline activity was not associated with incident hypertension in white women or blacks.

Conclusions: Leisure-time physical activity reduces the odds of hypertension in middle-aged white men. Additional studies in women and blacks are needed.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Arteriosclerosis / etiology
  • Black People
  • Black or African American / statistics & numerical data*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Hypertension / ethnology*
  • Hypertension / prevention & control*
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Maryland / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota / epidemiology
  • Mississippi / epidemiology
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • White People / statistics & numerical data*