In a recent study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, self-reported moderate to vigorous exercise was tied to lower blood pressure and blood glucose levels.

Some earlier studies had shown associations between self-reported physical activity and cardiometabolic risk factors within a healthcare setting. As part of Kaiser Permanente’s Exercise as Vital Sign (EVS) program, medical office staff asked patients how many days per week they engaged in moderate or strenuous exercise (eg, brisk walk), and how many minutes they engaged in exercise at this level. Records of 622,897 Kaiser Permanente Southern California adults were evaluated.

Patients were categorized as “regularly active” (≥150mins/week), “irregularly active” (<150mins/week), and “inactive” (no exercise). Women who were regularly or irregularly active had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure vs. those who were inactive. Men were found to have lower diastolic blood pressure but there was no link to their systolic blood pressure.

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Also, regularly and irregularly active patients had lower fasting glucose levels than the inactive patients. Women who were regularly or irregularly active had a greater difference in cardiometabolic variables vs. men who were similarly active.

Data suggests that exercise can play a critical role in moderating or lowering blood pressure and blood sugar. Healthcare professionals are urged to recommend more exercise to those who report little activity per week, and to recommend moderate to strenuous exercise in those who already report being active.

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