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Have High Blood Pressure? Weekly Workout May Lower Risk to Your Brain
  • Posted June 7, 2024

Have High Blood Pressure? Weekly Workout May Lower Risk to Your Brain

Vigorous exercise more than once a week can lower the risk of dementia for people with high blood pressure, a new clinical trial shows.

People who engaged each week in vigorous physical activity had lower rates of mild cognitive impairment and dementia despite their high blood pressure, according to results published June 6 in Alzheimer's & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer's Association,

Examples of vigorous activity include hiking uphill, running, fast bicycling, swimming laps, aerobic dancing, jumping rope and heavy yardwork, according to the American Heart Association.

“We know that physical exercise offers many benefits, including lowering blood pressure, improving heart health and potentially delaying cognitive decline,” said lead researcher Dr. Richard Kazibwe, an assistant professor of internal medicine at Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

This new study offers an idea of how much exercise is needed to reap these benefits, Kazibwe added.

The clinical trial involved more than 9,300 participants with high blood pressure aged 50 and older, recruited from about 100 hospitals and clinics throughout the United States.

Early results published in 2019 showed that tight control of blood pressure significantly reduced the risk of developing mild cognitive impairment, a precursor of early dementia, researchers said.

For this new report, researchers analyzed the effect of exercise on brain health in these folks.

Nearly 60% of study participants reported vigorous physical activity at least once a week, even among those 75 and older, Kazibwe noted.

“It is welcome news that a higher number of older adults are engaging in physical exercise,” Kazibwe said in a Wake Forest news release. “This also suggests that older adults who recognize the importance of exercise may be more inclined to exercise at higher intensity,”

However, the protective impact of vigorous exercise on brain health was more pronounced for those younger than 75, results showed.

More information

The American Heart Association has more on recommended physical activity.

SOURCE: Wake Forest University, news release, June 6, 2024

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