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Walk on with hope of healthy heart… it’s as good as pills

JUST 30 minutes of exercise every morning may be as effective as taking tablets at lowering blood pressure for the rest of the day, a study shows.

A short burst of activity — such as walking on a treadmill at moderate intensity — was found to have long-lasting effects.

And there were further benefits from extra three-minute walks later in the day.

The British Heart Foundation welcomed the findings, saying half an hour of exercise every morning was also good for mental health.

Chris Allen, senior cardiac nurse at the BHF, said: ‘This study supports a huge body of evidence that shows regular physical activity can help towards lowering your blood pressure and help reduce your risk of heart attacks and strokes. It can also give both your body and mind a boost, which is why 30 minutes of activity in the morning is a great way to set yourself up for the day.

‘If you’re new to being more active, you can check in with your GP and seek their advice.’

For the study, 35 women and 32 men took part in three daily regimes — the first of which simply involved sitting down for eight hours.

The second required the volunteers to do 30 minutes of treadmill walking at the end of the first hour and the third was the same but with three-minute walks added later in the day.

Both exercise plans were found to lower systolic blood pressure — a strong predictor of heart problems — in men and women.

Women in particular benefited from the extra short walks, shows the study in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension. Lead author Michael Wheeler, of the University of Western Australia in Perth, said older people may particularly benefit from morning exercise.

Around one in four adults in the UK has high blood pressure.

■ WALKING up the stairs, washing the car or carrying the shopping can boost the health of overweight people, say scientists. Simple household chores scan provide bursts of exercise known as HIIPA. ‘Regular incidental activity that gets you huffing and puffing, even for a few seconds a day, has great promise for health. HIIPA is achievable for most people,’ said Prof Emmanuel Stamatakis of Sydney University. An Australian study last year found two minutes of high intensity interval training is as effective as half an hour of moderate aerobic exercise.