SUNDAY, Sept. 17, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- Taking four short walks a day to lower your blood pressure may be more effective than one long walk, a new study finds.
Reporting in the September issue of the Journal of Hypertension, Indiana University researchers compared the effects of four 10-minute walks to one 40-minute walk in reducing blood pressure in 20 people with prehypertension.
Prehypertension, in which blood pressure ranges from 120-139 mm Hg over 80-89 mm Hg, is an elevated blood pressure level that will usually progress to high blood pressure. High blood pressure is associated with heart attack, heart failure, kidney failure, stroke and blindness.
The researchers found that while the short walks and long walk decreased the participants' blood pressure by the same amount, the effect lasted for 11 hours after the short walks, compared to seven hours after the long walk.
"We had no idea the short bouts would be better," Janet Wallace, professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the Indiana University School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said in a prepared statement. "Most studies found in the literature report the long, continuous session as more effective for many variables."
But these findings may motivate people who cannot seem to fit long bouts of activity in their schedule.
"The biggest problem for most people is that they don't have time," Wallace said. "You might think, 'I don't have the time to go to the gym or work out for 40 minutes, but I might have the time to do 10 minutes here, 10 minutes here and another 10 minutes here.' Four 10-minute walks would be ideal."
The U.S. National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute has more about high blood pressure.