Morning Exercise, Frequent Breaks Lowers Blood Pressure in Adults

February 20th 2019
Jennifer Nessel, Assistant Editor
Jennifer Nessel, Assistant Editor

The study aimed to demonstrate whether or not morning exercise had a profound effect on blood pressure over the course of an 8-hour day.

Thirty minutes of morning exercise, such as treadmill walking, has been found to lower average blood pressure over an 8-hour day among older, overweight or obese adults, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal,Hypertension.1The study also suggested that women who take brief, frequent breaks from siting throughout the day can enhance the blood pressure benefits of morning exercise.

The study was conducted to determine whether or not sitting for long periods of time would negate the benefits of morning exercise, and whether or not the benefit of morning exercise would be enhanced by frequent, short breaks from sitting.

There were 67 participants, who were obese or overweight men and women, ages 55 to 80 years. Researchers had the adults take part in 3 different randomized scenarios, separated by at least 6 days.1They either:

  • Sat uninterrupted for 9 hours.
  • Sat for 1 hour, followed by 30 minutes of exercise, and then 6.5 hours of prolonged sitting
  • One hour of sitting prior to 30 minutes of exercise, followed by sitting interrupted every 30 minutes with 3 minutes of light intensity walking during the span of 6.5 hours.

The results of the study indicated that the average blood pressure, particularly systolic blood pressure, was reduced among both men and women who completed morning exercise as compared to when they did not exercise. There was also a significant reduction for women in average systolic blood pressure, the measure of pressure in blood vessels when the heart beats, when they took frequent breaks. There was no such change for men who took frequent breaks.

The researchers speculate the variances in adrenaline responses to exercise and the fact that the women were postmenopausal, when women are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, as reasons for the gender difference. They concluded that future studies should specifically test for gender difference in blood pressure with breaks in sitting alone.

According to the press release, further research would be needed to see if the same benefits would apply to younger people and those who are not overweight. According to Michael Wheeler, lead author of the study, "As the proportion of those who are overweight with higher blood pressure increases with age, adopting a strategy of combining exercise with breaks in sitting may be important to control and prevent the development of high blood pressure."

Reference

Combining Morning Exercise with short walking breaks helps control blood pressure [news release]. Dallas, Texas; February 20, 2019: AHA website.https://newsroom.heart.org/news/combining-morning-exercise-with-short-walking-breaks-helps-control-blood-pressure-in-older-overweightobese-adults-especially-in-women?preview=1757. Accessed Feb. 20, 2019.

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