The figures reveal exercise has a direct correlation with the risk of high blood pressure.
Little more than half an hour of exercise every day could cut your risk of high blood pressure by almost a fifth, say researchers.
Doing just four hours a week of physical activity during leisure time could make the difference between a healthy blood pressure and having to take drugs for life.
New findings from the American Heart Association (AHA) suggest the more recreational physical activity you get, the more you are protected from developing high blood pressure.
Researchers pooled results from 13 studies on the effects of physical activity on blood pressure in a report in the journal Hypertension.
The studies involved 136,846 people in the United States, Europe or East Asia who initially had healthy blood pressure. More than 15,600 later developed high blood pressure during follow-up periods ranging from two to 45 years.
People who exercised more than four hours per week in their leisure time had a 19 per cent lower risk of high blood pressure than those who exercised less than one hour per week.
People who had one to three hours per week of leisure exercise had an 11 per cent lower risk than those with under an hour of activity.
An estimated 16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, including the third who do not know they have it.
It is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, and kidney failure.
Every day there are 350 preventable strokes or heart attacks in the UK due to high blood pressure.
A high blood pressure reading is one that exceeds 140/90 millimetres of mercury (mm Hg).
The first figure, the systolic pressure, corresponds to the ‘surge’ that occurs with each heart beat.
The condition typically has no symptoms, so it goes undetected or untreated in many people.
In developed countries like the UK, the lifetime risk of developing high blood pressure is now 90 per cent and six million Britons take drugs to control it – usually for life.
People with hypertension – the medical term – are routinely advised to change their lifestyle and eat less salt, lose weight, drink less alcohol, eat more fruit and vegetables and exercise more.

16 million people in the UK have high blood pressure, including the third who do not know they have it.

But the latest research show the benefits in preventing blood pressure from rising are much bigger than expected.
Dr Wei Ma, study co-author and associate professor at the Shandong University School of Public Health in Jinan, China, said ‘Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease — thus, it is important to prevent and control hypertension.
‘To try to lower your risk of high blood pressure, you should exercise more in your leisure time.’ Researchers didn’t find a solid link between physical exertion at work and risk of high blood pressure.
Dr Bo Xi, research co-author and lecturer at the Shandong University School of Public Health in Jinan, China, said health guidelines advising more exercise don’t distinguish between activity at work and for leisure, but ‘given the new findings, perhaps they should.’
Physical activity on the job, such as farm or industrial work, can involve exertion like heavy lifting, prolonged standing and repetitive tasks.
The researchers said recreational exercise may affect several factors tied to high blood pressure — helping people keep off extra pounds, improving poor insulin sensitivity or reducing the blood vessels’ resistance to blood flow.
However, the findings don’t prove that taking exercise can prevent hypertension because people who exercise for fun may have healthier lifestyles, warned Dr Xi.
In the UK people are advised to do 150 minutes of moderate activity such as gardening, dancing or brisk walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise including playing sport, running or aerobics every week.
Three out of four Britons fail to achieve this.
Doireann Maddock, Senior Cardiac Nurse at the British Heart Foundation, said: ‘The benefits of physical activity on heart health are already well known and this study goes a long way to reinforcing that evidence.
‘Current guidelines recommend that adults do at least two and a half hours of moderate intensity activity each week.
‘You could aim for a minimum of 30 minutes on five days a week, but even ten minutes here or there will count.
‘Keeping active doesn’t necessarily have to mean joining a gym either. A brisk lunchtime walk with a friend or getting off the bus a few stops earlier can make a difference, too.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail
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