A study published online in The American Journal of Cardiology suggests that older sedentary adults with elevated blood pressure should consider swimming as a way to bring the pressure down, as an ‘ideal form of exercise’ because it puts little weight-bearing stress on the body and is not likely to lead to overheating.
Researcher at the University of Texas’s Cardiovascular Aging Research Laboratory recruited 43 sedentary people aged over 50 (average age of 60) with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension but not on any medication, and assigned them either to 12 weeks of swimming or 12 weeks of relaxation exercises (the controls).
Before the 12 weeks there were no significant differences the two groups, and after the 12 weeks there were no significant changes in body mass, body fat or blood levels of glucose and cholesterol in either group. But, they found that blood pressure (casual systolic) fell from 131 to 122 mm Hg in the swimming group, where 120 is “ideal” for a healthy heart, while there was no change in the ‘relaxing’ control group.
The authors conclude:
“… swimming exercise elicits hypotensive effects and improvements in vascular function in previously sedentary older adults.”
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The scientific article can be found here on ajconline.org