(HealthDay News) – Swimming exercise is associated with a decrease in blood pressure (BP) and improvements in vascular function in older adults with early hypertension.

To investigate the effect of regular swimming sessions on arterial BP and vascular function, Nantinee Nualnim, PhD of the University of Texas at Austin, and associates randomly assigned 43 adults (>50 years) with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension but not on medication to 12 weeks of swimming or an attention time control group.

The researchers observed a significant decrease in casual systolic BP in the swimming group, from 131 to 122mmHg. Ambulatory and central BP measurements also showed a significant decrease in systolic BP. There was a significant (21%) increase in carotid artery compliance in the swimming group as well as significant improvements in flow-mediated dilation and cardiovagal baroreflex sensitivity. The control group that performed gentle relaxation exercises did not experience any significant changes in any measurements.

“Swimming exercise elicits hypotensive effects and improvements in vascular function in previously sedentary older adults,” the authors write.

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