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Does Running Lower Blood Pressure?

author image Marilyn Beery
Marilyn Beery is a Washington, D.C.-based writer/producer who is returning to print after an extensive career reporting, producing and writing for Discovery Communications, FOX, ABC, CBS and others. She is the recipient of the CINE Golden Eagle for Public Affairs (co-writer), the FREDDIE Award (International Health and Medical Media), and the CableFAX Award for Best Health/Fitness Series. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in speech communications from the University of Virginia, where she also played guard for the Lady Cavs.
Does Running Lower Blood Pressure?
A fitness group getting ready to run along the beach. Photo Credit: Erik Isakson/Blend Images/Getty Images

Recreational running attracts people of all sizes and ages. It's universally popular, because runners don’t have to be super competitive or even run at a fast pace to enjoy major health benefits. Just 30 to 40 minutes of running most days of the week can help prevent or reduce hypertension -- a potentially deadly condition in which abnormally high blood pressure damages blood vessels and vital organs.

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Everyone Can Benefit

Aerobic exercises such as running, cycling and swimming have a consistent, demonstrated effect on lowering blood pressure. According to a report published in November 2013 in "Circulation," men and women at all blood pressure levels benefit from regular aerobic activity, including those with hypertension. This same report suggests reductions in blood pressure are associated with moderate to vigorous aerobic physical activity of at least 12 weeks' duration, on average, involving 3 to 4 sessions per week, lasting an average of 40 minutes per session.

What Goes Up, Goes Back Down

During aerobic workouts like running, increased demands on the heart and circulatory system can cause blood pressure levels to spike temporarily. Exercise-induced elevations in blood pressure are not a concern for many healthy individuals. But extreme elevations in blood pressure during exercise can be a red flag. According to a study published in March 2002 in "Hypertension," an exaggerated blood pressure response to heart rate during exercise can predict future hypertension. If you have hypertension or think you are at risk, consult your doctor. Close medical supervision and proper blood pressure medications help many people with hypertension adjust safely to a new running routine.

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