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Even Short, Less Intense Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure

Effects of short, low-intensity exercise sessions equal to those of greater exertion

WEDNESDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- At least in the short term, brief periods of less intense exercise have similar blood pressure-lowering effects as longer, more strenuous exercise, researchers report in the June issue of the American Heart Journal.

Linda S. Pescatello, Ph.D., of the University of Connecticut in Storrs, Conn., and colleagues randomly assigned 45 men with mildly elevated blood pressure to either no exercise, a short 15-minute exercise stint or a longer 30-minute exercise session at light (40 percent) or moderate (60 percent) maximal oxygen consumption.

The researchers found that systolic blood pressure increased for nine hours after each scenario. However, compared to no exercise, the systolic blood pressure was reduced by 5.6 and 4.3 mm Hg after short and long exercise stints at light oxygen consumption, respectively, and 4.1 and 4.9 mm Hg after short and long exercise stints at moderate oxygen consumption, respectively.

Diastolic blood pressure dropped after all scenarios, but was reduced by 2.1 and 3.6 mm Hg more for three hours after short and long exercise with moderate oxygen consumption compared with non-exercisers.

"The immediate blood pressure-lowering effects of short-duration, lower intensity exercise are comparable to those of higher amounts of exercise," the authors write. "Additional investigation is needed to better quantify the dose of exercise needed to lower blood pressure."

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