Physical Fitness Lowers Risk of High Blood Pressure in People With Family History

(WebMD) — Does high blood pressure run in your family? Keeping physically fit may lower your odds of developing high blood pressure by a third.

A new study shows that physically fit people with a family history of high blood pressure were up to 34% less likely to develop high blood pressure than people who rarely exercised.

And it didn’t take hours of working out at the gym every day to get that benefit.

“The results of this study send a very practical message, which is that even a very realistic, moderate amount of exercise — which we define as brisk walking for 150 minutes per week — can provide a huge health benefit, particularly to people predisposed to hypertension because of their family history,” researcher Robin P. Shook, a doctoral graduate student in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, says in a news release.

Having a parent with high blood pressure is one of the biggest risk factors for developing the condition yourself. Previous research suggests that having a parent with high blood pressure may account for about 35% to 65% of the variability of blood pressure levels.

The Physical Fitness Factor

The new study, published in Hypertension, included more than 6,000 healthy adults. About a third of them had a parent with high blood pressure.

Their physical fitness levels were followed for nearly five years.

The results confirmed that people who had a parent with high blood pressure were more likely to develop high blood pressure — about 20% more likely, after considering other risk factors, including age, smoking, high cholesterol, and being overweight.



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