Background: It is not known whether physical activity is effective in reducing the risk for hypertension.
Objective: To investigate the association of the duration of the walk to work and leisure-time physical activity with the risk for hypertension.
Design: Prospective cohort study.
Setting: Work site in Osaka, Japan.
Participants: 6017 Japanese men 35 to 60 years of age with systolic blood pressure less than 140 mm Hg, diastolic blood pressure less than 90 mm Hg, normal glucose intolerance, and no history of hypertension or diabetes at baseline.
Measurements: Data on physical activity were obtained by using questionnaires. Blood pressure was measured by using a standard technique; a value of at least 160/95 mm Hg was used to diagnose hypertension.
Results: During 59,784 person-years of follow-up, 626 cases of hypertension were confirmed. The duration of the walk to work was associated with a reduction in the risk for incident hypertension; multivariate-adjusted relative risks were 1.00 for a walk of 10 minutes or less (reference category), 0.88 (95% CI, 0.75 to 1.04) for an 11- to 20-minute walk, and 0.71 (CI, 0.52 to 0.97) for a walk of 21 minutes or more (P for trend = 0.02). For every 26.3 men who walk more than 20 minutes to work, one case of hypertension will be prevented.
Conclusions: Walking to work and other types of physical activity decreased the risk for hypertension in Japanese men. Regular exercise can prevent hypertension.