We investigated the effects of walking 10,000 steps/day or more on blood pressure and cardiac autonomic nerve activity in mild essential hypertensive patients. All subjects were males aged 47.0+/-1.0 (mean+/-SEM) years old. The original cohort consisted of 730 people in a manufacturing industry who measured the number of steps they walked each day using a pedometer. Eighty-three of these subjects walked 10,000 steps/day or more for 12 weeks. Thirty-two of these were hypertensives with systolic blood pressure (SBP) greater than 140 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) greater than 90 mmHg. Thirty of these hypertensive subjects (HT) were examined twice, once during the pre- and once during the post-study period, for body mass index (BMI), maximal oxygen intake (Vo2max), blood pressure, heart rate (HR), and autonomic nerve activity by power spectral analysis of SBP and HR variability. In the HT group, walking 13,510+/-837 steps/day for 12 weeks lowered blood pressure (from 149.3+/-2.7/98.5+/-1.4 to 139.1+/-2.9/90.1+/-1.9 mmHg; p<0.01, respectively). In both the 34 normotensive controls and 17 hypertensive sedentary controls, blood pressure did not change. Walking also significantly lowered low-frequency fluctuations in SBP as an index of sympathetic nerve activity, from 1.324+/-0.192 to 0.738+/-0.154 mmHg2/Hz (p<0.05). VO2max rose significantly from 26.1+/-2.4 to 29.5+/-2.5 ml/kg/min (p<0.05). There were no changes in parasympathetic nerve activity, baroreceptor reflex sensitivity, or BMI. Our results indicate that walking 10,000 steps/days or more, irrespective of exercise intensity or duration, is effective in lowering blood pressure, increasing exercise capacity, and reducing sympathetic nerve activity in hypertensive patients.