Study finds you need more exercise now to protect future health

High blood pressure is a common condition that, if left untreated, can lead to a variety of health conditions later in life, including heart disease and stroke. According to a new study from the University of California – San Francisco, reducing your odds of developing high blood pressure in midlife will require more than the minimum recommended amount of exercise every week.

One's odds of developing high blood pressure depend on a variety of factors, including both genetics and lifestyle. Things like smoking, drinking, and lack of exercise can be major contributing factors, so it's no surprise that public health officials advise getting a certain minimum amount of exercise every week to help maintain your health.

According to the new study, young adults should get at least double the recommended minimum amount of moderate-intensity exercise every week in their late teens and 20s to reduce their odds of developing hypertension in later years. This potential benefit is greater in those who continue the exercise habit into their 30s and beyond.

The findings were based on data from around 5,000 adult participants ages 18 to 30 who were followed for three decades under the CARDIA study. Whereas the current minimum exercise recommendation is getting 2.5 hours of moderate-intensity exercise per week, the new study recommends boosting that number up to around 5 hours to counter high blood pressure risk.

Though the amount of exercise the participants got varied based on demographics, the risk of high blood pressure was observed to increase in lockstep with the rate at which the physical activity declined over the years.

Participants who got at least five hours of moderate-intensity exercise weekly in their early adult years were 18-percent less likely to develop high blood pressure compared to those who exercised less. In the case of people who maintained this level of activity through age 60, the risk of high blood pressure was found to be even lower.