“Swimming, walking or lifting weights in the gym ‘treats high blood pressure as well as drugs’,” reported the Mail Online, recently.
High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is common among older people and can increase the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Many people take one or more medicines to keep blood pressure under control.
Researchers carried out a review of 391 studies and trials which had looked into the effects of either blood pressure medicines or exercise programmes on blood pressure. When they compared the effects of the 2 different interventions, they found exercise produced similar results to medicines for people with high blood pressure.
The study adds to evidence that exercise is a good way to keep blood pressure under control. However, the researchers found no studies that directly compared medicines with exercise programmes, meaning the results rely on indirect comparisons between groups of people that may have been quite different. This makes it harder to rely on the results.
As the Mail Online rightly points out, you should never stop taking a prescribed medicine for high blood pressure without first seeking advice from a health professional. But increasing your activity levels could help enhance the protective effects of any medication.
More on this story and its background can be found on the NHS website
Find out more about recommended exercise levels for adults.