Trouble exercising to lower blood pressure? Just sit less

Every so often, I come across a study that just seems like they were thinking of ME when they did it.

Like, if I didn’t act on the results, I’d be a fool.

This is one of those times and one of those studies.

If you’re over 65 like me, you’ll want to pay attention and take it to heart — literally.

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An easier way to lower blood pressure

If you want to be healthier, have a healthier heart and live longer, what’s one of the things people always tell you to do?

Exercise. Move more. Get going.

But how many of us actually do it? For me, even though I’m able-bodied and could exercise more, the struggle is real.

What if there’s an easier way?

Kaiser Permanente (KP) is a nationwide network of healthcare and insurance providers.

A new KP study found that health coaching reduced sitting time for a group of older adults by more than 30 minutes per day.

Not only that; study participants also showed improvements in blood pressure comparable to the effect of interventions that focused on increasing physical activity.

“Our findings are really promising because sitting less is a change that may be easier for people than increasing physical activity, especially for older adults who are more likely to be living with restrictions like chronic pain or reduced physical function,” says Dr. Dori Rosenberg, lead author of the study.

Sitting less is as good as moving

The study’s subjects were 283 adults ages 60 to 89. Half were in the control group and received ten health coaching sessions focused on setting healthy living goals, excluding physical activity or sedentary behavior.

The other half of the participants received a tabletop standing desk, an activity tracker, and ten health coaching sessions over six months, where they set goals for reducing their time spent sitting.

Sitting less throughout the day led to an average change in blood pressure of almost 3.5 mmHg, close to the 4 mmHg decrease from physical activity that studies have seen.

In other words, developing less sedentary lifestyle habits reduced blood pressure by virtually as much as might be expected if the participants had increased their physical activity.

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Other reasons to get off the couch, and how to do it

Controlling your blood pressure and protecting your heart aren’t the only reasons to get up off the couch (or in my case, out of the chair).

A sedentary lifestyle increases your odds of ending up with dementia or diabetes.

It also makes you a candidate for varicose veins, which are more than just unsightly. They often lead to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and deadly blood clots.

So what’s the best way to get yourself up and moving? Here are some ideas I shared a few years ago that still work:

Schedule your moves. I find that anything I write in my planner gets done. Anything I don’t doesn’t. Write in a 30-minute walk. It doesn’t matter when… after lunch, before breakfast, mid-morning. The important thing is that you schedule it, and follow through.

Get an adjustable sit/stand desk. Make sure you stand up every 90 minutes or so. You’d be surprised how comfortable working on your computer while standing up can be.

Use a step tracker. Find an app on your phone that counts your steps for the day. This way, you know for sure that you’ve been moving. Set a goal and congratulate yourself when you’ve reached it. Keep a running record in your planner so you can look back and see your progress. And try this trick to reduce the number of steps you need, but still get the benefits.

Park far away. When you go to the store, park at the far end of the parking lot and build some extra steps into your day.

Try the Pomodoro technique. It will make you more productive and give you a chance for 10 minutes of walking every half hour or so, even if it’s up and down your stairs. That counts!

Move during commercials. If you’re a TV watcher, use commercial breaks to get up and stretch your legs, walk to the bathroom or the kitchen — where you should leave your water or healthy snack so you have to get up to go get them.

Make trips to the kitchen or breakroom to get a drink. If you’re working at a desk, walk to the kitchen or breakroom several times a day to get a drink instead of keeping water nearby. The same goes for snacks and lunch.

Editor’s note: There are numerous safe and natural ways to decrease your risk of blood clots including the 25-cent vitamin, the nutrient that acts as a natural blood thinner and the powerful herb that helps clear plaque. To discover these and more, click here for Hushed Up Natural Heart Cures and Common Misconceptions of Popular Heart Treatments!


New trial highlights promising intervention to reduce sitting and improve blood pressure in older adults — Eureka Alert

Sitting Time Reduction and Blood Pressure in Older Adults A Randomized Clinical Trial — JAMA Network Open

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.