10 Minutes Here, 10 Minutes There

19 September, 2012

Start your day with a 10-minute walk. Then grab three more 10-minute walking breaks throughout the day. Research shows that grabbing 10 minutes here and there could provide you with even better control over your blood pressure than if you'd slogged your way through a single 40-minute treadmill session.

When people with prehypertension -- that's systolic blood pressure of 120-139 or diastolic blood pressure of 80-89, or both -- were asked to walk briskly for 40 continuous minutes or for 10 minutes once per hour over a stretch of 4 hours, their blood pressure benefited most from the accumulated walking stints. The shorter walks reduced people's systolic pressure (that's the upper number) for 11 hours after the accumulated walks compared to only 7 hours for the continuous walk. Their diastolic pressure (the bottom number) was lower for 10 hours after the accumulated activity as opposed to only 7 hours for the continuous activity. 

Welcome news if you're struggling to fit exercise into an already jam-packed day. Just grab a quick walk around the block in the morning, in the office parking lot during lunch, at the grocery store on your way home, and around the block again when you get there. You're done. And your heart is healthier. 

All forms of exercise are good for lowering blood pressure; so are losing weight and eating a heart-healthy diet. Do all three -- exercise, lose weight, and eat right -- and you'll substantially reduce your risk of strokes and heart attacks. 

SOURCES: Accumulation of physical activity leads to a greater blood pressure reduction than a single continuous session, in prehypertension. Park, S., Rink, L. D., Wallace, J. P., Journal of Hypertension 2006 Sep;24(9):1761-1770.

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