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New Study on Exercise Guidelines

New Study about Exercise GuidelinesDespite religiously biking and working on both the elliptical and rowing machines, I recently learned that my blood pressure is somewhat elevated. I can only assume that this may be caused by my high-salt dietary habits. Having garnered my attention, it’s time to make necessary changes.

The motivation for change was also heightened by a new report on how high blood pressure can possibly be reduced without relying on medications.

A new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine suggests that exercise guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) might require an update. Here are the new findings:

  1. Weekly Exercise of at Least Five Hours (300 minutes) – The current HHS guidelines suggest that adults should aspire to perform at least 150 to 300 minutes weekly of moderate-intensity exercise. Brisk walking, swimming, and mowing the lawn are three good examples. However, the new study concludes that moderate exercise should be around five hours per week. In other words, if you exercise at 150 minutes per week, you are only half-way to the new recommended level. As mentioned in the study, “Moderate physical activity levels may need to exceed current minimum guidelines to prevent hypertension onset using the 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association definitions.”
  2. How Five Hours Per Week was Determined – Researchers analyzed a mid-1980’s project that extended for 30 years. Of the 5,000 teens followed, only those who completed more than 300 minutes of exercise every week avoided hypertension. Hypertension occurs in nearly half of all American adults and is defined as blood pressure at or above 130/80mm Hg. High blood pressure levels can cause risk for cardiovascular disease and events, which can be fatal. In 2018, nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. included hypertension as a primary or contributing cause.
  3. Racial Disparities – The new study indicates that Black respondents exercise far less than White respondents. The result? Black individuals suffered more acutely from the effects of hypertension than White respondents. This finding, it should be noted, is not earth shattering. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2020, racial disparities in hypertension prevalence is greater in non-Hispanic Black adults (54 percent) than in non-Hispanic White adults (46 percent), non-Hispanic Asian adults (39 percent), or Hispanic adults (36 percent). Hypertension rates also vary greatly by state.

Summary

It is widely known that high blood pressure can be treated by a combination of medication and lifestyle changes. For employers, worksite programs related to physical activities, nutrition, alcohol use, stress, type 2 diabetes and obesity can aid employees in prevention and reducing high blood pressure.

Of course, modifying behaviors is the ultimate challenge to employers, their employees and family members. It begins and ends with finding the ‘right’ motivations to alter lifestyle choices.

As for me, exercising is no problem, and I feel confident that my blood pressure can be reduced by making a few dietary changes that I should have been making earlier. With that said, I really will miss those salted pistachios!

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