Stopping high blood pressure is childs play

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Preventing high blood pressure is child's play
04/11/2008

Research from Wales suggests that healthy people may be able to avoid high blood pressure, and control their weight, by short bursts of high intensity exercise - much like the way children play in a playground. For example, the researchers believe that six short, sharp sprints of 30 seconds three times a week could be as beneficial as jogging or cycling for 45 minutes five times a week.

However, high intensity activity is not recommended for people with high blood pressure because it may raise their blood pressure to a dangerously high level. If you have high blood pressure and want to lower it, 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercises such as cycling, swimming or brisk walking five times a week is still the best choice.


Key points

Key points about exercise and high blood pressure:

  • Being active helps to keep our heart and arteries flexible and efficient - lowering our blood pressure and our risk of a heart attack or stroke
  • The UK Government recommends that everyone takes 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise (dancing, digging or brisk housework) five times a week to look after their heart
  • This research suggests that people who do not have high blood pressure could benefit from short, sharp bursts of high intensity activity
  • People who have high blood pressure should avoid high intensity exercises because it may raise their blood pressure to dangerous high levels
  • To lower pre-existing high blood pressure, following the Government's advice is the best established option

What did the research find?

Because only 29% of adults in Wales reach the Government's advice of 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise five times a week, researchers wanted to see if other, quicker forms of exercise could be as beneficial.

The scientists, from the University of Glamorgan, looked at people's exercise patterns over a number of years and compared short high-intensity sprints to moderate intensity activities such as jogging or cycling. They found that healthy people who sprinted had the same health benefits as those undertaking endurance activities.

According to their study, the researchers believe that six short sprints of 30-60 metres (that last up to 30 seconds) with a four minute rest period in between each sprint, is beneficial.


What do the findings mean?

If you do not have high blood pressure and wish to prevent it:
This research suggests that building in short, high-intensity activities and exercises into your day may help to keep your weight down and keep your arteries and heart in good condition.

If you have high blood pressure and wish to lower it:
This research may not be useful for you. High-intensity exercises will raise your already-raised blood pressure even higher and this may be dangerous for you. For this reason, it would be best to continue to follow the UK Government's advice of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five times a week to benefit your heart and lower your blood pressure.

Topics: Research, High Blood Pressure in the news, Lifestyle


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