Purpose: The American College of Sports Medicine and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (ACSM-CDC) recommend 30 min of daily moderate-intensity physical activity for health; however, the effectiveness of this recommendation in lowering blood pressure (BP) in hypertensives is unclear. The present study tested the hypothesis that walking activity following the ACSM-CDC physical activity recommendation would lower BP in postmenopausal women with high BP.
Methods: Resting BP was measured in 24 postmenopausal women with borderline to stage 1 hypertension at baseline, 12 wk, and 24 wk. Fifteen women in the exercise (EX) group walked 3 km.d-1 above their daily lifestyle walking, whereas 9 women in the control (CON) group did not change their activity. Walking activity was self-measured with a pedometer in both groups.
Results: Resting systolic BP was reduced in the EX group after 12 wk by 6 mm Hg (P < 0.005) and was further reduced by 5 mm Hg at the end of 24 wk (P < 0.005). There was no change in diastolic BP with walking. The CON group experienced no change in BP at either 12 or 24 wk. Body mass was modestly reduced by 1.3 kg in the EX group after 24 wk (P < 0.05); however, it was not correlated with the change in BP. There were no changes in selected variables known to impact BP including percent body fat, fasting plasma insulin, or dietary intake.
Conclusion: In conclusion, a 24-wk walking program meeting the ACSM-CDC physical activity recommendation is effective in lowering systolic BP in postmenopausal women with borderline to stage 1 hypertension.