Physical activity is an important non-pharmacological intervention that doctors recommend to prevent the development of arterial hypertension. Cardiologists believe that young age is the best time to start preventing this disease.
Scientists do not question the effect of exercise. However, how active physically one should be, starting from a young age, so that the risk of high blood pressure decreases significantly, can only be judged in general terms. This is due to the fact that there have been practically no studies previously conducted in which participants were monitored from young age to maturity, assessing their physical activity and blood pressure.
In the new study, scientists followed about 5,000 participants over 30 years. At the beginning of the study, they were 18-30 years old. From time to time they filled out questionnaires that related to their lifestyle, including physical activity. The researchers regularly monitored the levels of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in the participants.
In this study, scientists used the criteria for essential hypertension proposed by the American Heart Association in 2017. According to them, blood pressure is considered elevated above 130/80 millimeter of mercury.
“Teenagers and people in their 20s and 25s can be physically active, but this can change with age. Our research shows that it may be important for young people to do more exercise than previously thought, ”said Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, professor in the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of California, San Francisco, and co-author of the study.
Scientists found that 18% of study participants at a young age devoted about 5 hours a week to moderate-intensity physical activity – twice the recommended amount. People in this group had an average of 18% lower risk of developing hypertension by middle age than those who exercised less. People who continued to exercise as actively until age 60 had an even lower risk of hypertension.
In the study, scientists are guided by the norms presented in the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans. The level of physical activity of moderate intensity, according to the document, is 2.5-3 hours per week.
The researchers noted that about half of the study participants had suboptimal physical activity levels at a young age, that is, slightly insufficient. In people from this group, the risk of developing hypertension was significant.
They are convinced that the recommended level of physical activity for young people should be increased. In their opinion, this is especially true for people who enter adulthood, become overgrown with responsibilities and begin to do less exercise.