It’s a common fact: Exercise is good for us.
Even better? Exercising everyday–something shown to improve weight loss, boost energy levels, and even improve the health of your heart in the process.
Now there’s an even more important reason to make it a daily habit, say researchers.
According to a new study published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease, people who exercised moderately to vigorously on a daily basis were more likely to have lower blood pressure and blood glucose–two risk factors associated with heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
Coincidentally, these happen to be the two most prevalent diseases in the United States.
“Although this study was cross-sectional and we cannot presume causality between the level of physical activity and health status based on these data, combining our findings with results from intervention studies suggest that exercise can play an integral part in moderating/lowering blood sugar and blood pressure, and ultimately a patient’s cardiometabolic health,” says Deborah Rohm Young, Ph.D., a researcher from the Kaiser Permanente Department of Research & Evaluation in Pasadena, California. “If health care providers would routinely assess the physical activity of their patients and refer the physically inactive patients to exercise programs, it may reduce the incidence of future chronic diseases.”
The study, which was published in the December issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, examined clinical records from over 600,000 adults enrolled in Kaiser Permanente in Southern California, a branch of its healthcare organization. Here, researchers identified people who had their exercise vital signs, or EVS, measured at least 3 times between April 2010 and December 2012, who were not already on glucose or hypertension medications. The participants also self-reported how often they were physically active–and not surprisingly, these numbers varied a lot.
After determining how many met the criteria for regular physical activity–150 minutes or more per week in this instance–they looked at how many of them had issues with their blood pressure or blood glucose.
Not surprisingly, those who self-reported being regularly physically active had lower levels of blood pressure and blood glucose–though, the same couldn’t be said for those who weren’t physically active.
“The difference in fasting glucose (approximately 3%) we found between the consistently physically active and consistently inactive patients is comparable to findings from lifestyle interventions in populations at risk for future cardiometabolic disease,” write researchers in the online version of Preventing Chronic Disease. “Randomized trials of weight loss, dietary patterns, and physical activity interventions reported reductions of a similar magnitude for intervention compared with control group participants.”
However, researchers also point out the study didn’t specifically perform an in-depth analysis of these patients, so these findings can only establish correlations, not a cause-and-effect response. Still, previous studies have also shown similar benefits from regular exercise, suggesting there is a definite trend here.
“In conclusion, consistently physically active and irregularly active patients, as assessed by the EVS, have lower diastolic blood pressure, glucose, and HbA1c levels than patients who are consistently physically inactive,” write researchers.
What This Means For You
Sure, exercise is a tough habit to develop–but now the benefits aren’t just great for your waistline. To ward off high blood pressure and glucose, make the effort to stay physically active every day; simple tasks such as cleaning, gardening, or walking count too, so you needn’t go hardcore either to benefit.
Readers: How do you personally stay physically active?
Study: Self-Reported Daily Exercise Associated With Lower Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose – ScienceDaily.com
Associations Between Physical Activity and Cardiometabolic Risk Factors (Study) – CDC.gov