How Can Working Out Help Your Heart as Meds Do?
Exercise could just be your next heart-healthy drug or supplements for men: Sweaty workouts can reduce your high blood pressure as much as prescription medicines do, suggests new research just published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Researchers collected data from 194 clinical trials that focused on drugs designed to lower systolic blood pressure (the number above your BP reading), and 197 studies that included data on the outcomes of regular exercise such as walking, running, strength training and swimming.
Researchers found, after crunching the numbers, that blood pressure for those taking antihypertensive drugs was lower than for those who were working out.
But when they narrowed their study to people with high blood pressure, well, it told a different story: In that case, exercise proved to be just as effective in reducing their levels as most drugs.
For a long time, exercise has been considered one of the best ways to help lower blood pressure: a vigorous workout increases the heart’s strength and performance, so you don’t have to work as hard to do everything you need to keep riding.
Although the results are positive, the findings should not cause you to dissect any medications you might be on, and instead hop on your bike.
That’s because the study has some drawbacks, primarily due to lack of physical activity studies as a standalone method to lower blood pressure.
The amount of information on exercise interventions, particularly among hypertensive populations, is substantially smaller than that on medications.
That said the evidence is compelling, and further work should be needed.
Meanwhile, consider your regular ride’s preventive effects: there is already plenty of substantial evidence to support the connection between exercising and improving heart health.
So if you’re looking for a good way to keep your heart going strong and reduce your risk of blood-pressure-related issues, keeping your exercise routine has big advantages. Do you have heart problems and want to ramp up your rides? Chat with your doctor first, to make sure that any increase in activity is safe.