Sat | Jun 12, 2021

Charlyn Fargo, Contributor

Published:Wednesday | May 23, 2012 | 12:00 AM

If your parents have a history of high blood pressure, you can significantly reduce your risk of developing the disease with moderate exercise and increased cardiovascular fitness, according to new research in the American Heart Association's journal, Hypertension.

In a study of more than 6,000 people, those who had a parent with high blood pressure, but were highly fit, had a 34 per cent lower risk of developing high blood pressure themselves, compared with those with a low fitness level who had the same parental history.

"Understanding the roles that family history and fitness play in chronic diseases is critically important," said Robin Shook, study lead author and a doctoral graduate student in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia.

"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."

Parent had hypertension

Researchers followed a group of 6,278 predominantly Caucasian adults, 20 to 80-years-old, for an average 4.7 years. The participants were patients of the Cooper Clinic, a non-profit organisation dedicated to preventive medicine, research and education in Dallas. Thirty-three per cent of participants reported that a parent had hypertension.

When the study began, all participants were healthy, reported no diagnosis of hypertension and achieved an exercise test score of at least 85 per cent of their age-predicted maximal heart rate. Researchers determined participants' cardiorespiratory fitness using a maximal treadmill-exercise test. During the study, 1,545 participants reported they had developed hypertension.

Researchers found that:

Combining those with and without a family history of high blood pressure, high levels of fitness were associated with a 42 per cent lower risk of developing hypertension, and moderate levels of fitness with a 26 per cent lower risk.

People with both a low level of fitness and a parent with hypertension had a 70 per cent higher risk for developing hypertension compared to highly fit people with no parental history.

Those with a high level of fitness and a parent with hypertension experienced only a 16 per cent higher risk of developing hypertension compared to those who were fit and had no parental history.

- Information courtesy of the American Heart Association.

Yoga and weight loss

Q: Is yoga enough exercise to help me lose weight?

A: Some studies do suggest that yoga could play a role, although results vary depending on the type of yoga. A study of six healthy young adults who did the Sun Salutation (a series of 12 poses repeatedly going from standing to floor) estimated that they burned about 230 calories in a half-hour session. That's comparable to what the average person burns in the same period on a brisk walk.

- Information courtesy of the American Institute for Cancer Research.

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Working out to lower blood pressure