Seniors, sit less to get your high blood pressure down


Just stand up and move around, that's what a study suggests could be effective for older adults to help keep their high blood pressure under control. — AFP

Spending less time sitting and moving around more often could help the elderly lower their blood pressure, according to an American study.

This solution could be just as effective as increasing physical activity, and easier for many seniors to integrate into their daily lives.

According to a new study conducted by researchers at Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute (KPWHRI), reducing the amount of time spent sitting by at least 30 minutes a day could help improve blood pressure in senior citizens.

The results, published in the journal Nutrition, Obesity and Exercise, are comparable to those seen in previous studies where participants exercised more.

To reach this conclusion, the researchers followed 283 overweight or obese people aged 60 to 89 for six months, who reported sitting for more than six hours a day.

At the start of the study, over half had high blood pressure, over a quarter had diabetes, and almost two-thirds were taking at least one blood pressure-lowering medication.

The researchers divided the participants into two groups.

The first – the intervention group – was monitored by a sports coach, who gave them advice on improving their lifestyle and reducing sedentary behaviour.

People in this group were given a fitness tracker and a standing desk.

The second group – the control group – also had a health coach, but only to set healthy lifestyle goals, not to change their level of physical activity or become less sedentary.

At the end of the six-month observation period, the researchers found that members of the first group sat for an average of 31 minutes less per day than the control group.

They also had nearly 3.5 mmHg lower blood pressure, “comparable to reductions of 4 mmHg in studies of increased physical activity and 3 mmHg in studies of weight loss,” the researchers said.

“Our findings are really promising because sitting less is a change that may be easier for people than increasing physical activity, especially for older adults who are more likely to be living with restrictions like chronic pain or reduced physical ability,” said study lead author and KPWHRI researcher Dr Dori Rosenberg in a press release.

Elderly people generally sit for between 65% and 80% of their waking hours, according to the study.

This level of sedentary behaviour can increase the risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular (heart) disease.

The researchers now want to undertake further research to determine which solution had the greatest impact on the results obtained.

“We aren’t sure which piece of this was most impactful,” noted Dr Rosenberg.

“Do people need the desk and the activity tracker and 10 coaching sessions to successfully change their sitting time?

“Or might they be able to do it with one or two pieces of that?

“Having a little more insight will be useful when we look at how to best implement this in a healthcare setting where resources might be limited.” – AFP Relaxnews

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