Walking at a casual to brisk pace for at least 150 minutes a week may help postmenopausal women reduce the risk of elevated blood pressure, according to an observational study published in Hypertension. The researchers selected 83,435 women, ages 50-79, to follow from the Women’s Health Initiative and checked in every few years. After 10.8 years, they collected data to see how walking frequency and speed overlapped with rates of hypertension, a medical term for high blood pressure. Blood pressure tends to increase with age and elevated levels can increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
The researchers found women who walked at least 2.5 hours each week at a casual pace of 2 miles-per-hour (mph) had fewer incidents of hypertension compared to women who did not walk or who walked at a slower pace. Faster walking speeds of 3-4 mph (a steady pace of 15- to 20-minute miles) or 4+ mph (a power-walking pace of sub-15-minute miles) correlated with even fewer incidents of hypertension.
“To put it simply, get your steps in, and try to make them quick,” says study author Connor Miller about natural ways to support healthy blood pressure. The study was funded by the NHLBI and the HHS.