Everyone knows that a healthy ticker is vital to a long and healthy life. Unfortunately, some people are dealt a bad hand and cannot help that their genetic makeup makes them susceptible to hypertension, or high blood pressure. Fortunately, according to new research in the American Heart Association’s journal Hypertension, physical fitness can help reduce your risk of hypertension if it is in your family history.1
Research shows that about 35% to 65% of the inconsistency in blood pressure among children is based upon parental history. A recently conducted study on over 6,000 people who had a parent with high blood pressure showed those who were highly fit had a 34% lower chance of developing high blood pressure, compared to a person who was not fit.2
At the beginning of the study, which included predominantly Caucasian adults ranging from 20 to 80 years of age, all of whom were healthy and did not suffer from hypertension, 33% reported that a parent suffered from hypertension. During the study there were 1,545 participants who reported they had developed hypertension. It was discovered that those who were at a high level of fitness, whether or not they had a family history of hypertension or not, had a 42% lower risk of developing hypertension. Those who were at a moderate level of fitness still had a 26% lower risk. On the contrary, those who had a lower level of fitness as well as a parent who suffered from hypertension were at a 70% higher risk of developing hypertension, compared to those with no parental history. The study also revealed that those who were fit and had a parent with hypertension only experienced a 16% greater risk of developing hypertension compared to those who had a high level of fitness and had no parental history.3
Robin P. Shook, M.S., who was the study’s lead author and a doctoral graduate student in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina in Columbia, said this on the matter: “Understanding the roles that family history and fitness play in chronic diseases is critically important. The results of this study send a very practical message, which is that even a very realistic, moderate amount of exercise – which we define as brisk walking for 150 minutes per week – can provide a huge health benefit, particularly to people predisposed to hypertension because of their family history.” Basically, what Shook is saying is those who live an active, fitness-related lifestyle greatly reduce their risk of suffering from hypertension compared to that of those who lives a sedentary lifestyle.4
This study provides us with yet another added benefit of living a healthy and fit lifestyle. Hypertension currently affects many Americans, and many of us cannot help what our genetics destine us to be at risk to develop. However, becoming fit can definitely aid in helping reduce the risk of developing high blood pressure, and possibly help add some more years to our lives.