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Paper of the day – Low levels of exercise ‘reduce blood pressure and waist circumference’

Low levels of physical activity – 30 minutes of brisk walking three times a week –reduce blood pressure, and the circumference of both waist and hip, a small study suggests.

The 12-week study of 106 healthy but sedentary civil servants from Northern Ireland also found significant improvements of physical function in 42 patients assigned to three sessions of low level exercise and in 44 who walked briskly for 30 minutes five days a week (the recommended minimum level of physical activity).

No changes to BP, waist and hip measures and physical fitness were found in 20 of the civil servants who were not asked to change their lifestyle at all.

The researchers behind the study, from the University of Ulster say that reductions of even a few mmHg in blood pressure and shrinkage of a few centimetres in hip and waist circumference of the level observed in the study are enough to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 2007; 61: 778-783.

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