Regular exercise and physical fitness may significantlylower a person’s risk of high blood pressure, even if the individual has afamily history of the condition, according to a study published in the journalHypertension and reported by HealthDay News.  

For the study, researchers followed almost 6,300 peoplebetween ages 20 to 80 for five years. All the study participants were highlyfit. A third of the group had at least one parent with high blood pressure(also called hypertension).  

Researchers found that participants who displayed highlevels of fitness had a 42 percent lower risk of developing high bloodpressure, regardless of family history. Moderately fit people had a 26 percentlower risk. And among fit people, having a family history of hypertensionincreased the risk for the condition by only 16 percent.  

In contrast, people with who did not regularly exercise andhad a family history of hypertension had a 70 percent higher risk for highblood pressure. 

“The results of this study send a very practical message,which is that even a very realistic, moderate amount of exercise—which wedefine as brisk walking for 150 minutes per week—can provide a huge healthbenefit, particularly to people predisposed to hypertension because of theirfamily history,” study author Robin Shook said in an American Heart Associationstatement. 

The American Heart Association recommends at least 30minutes of moderately intense physical activity, such as brisk walking, fivedays a week. 

“The correlations between fitness levels, parental historyand risk are impossible to ignore,” Shook said. “This awareness can serve theclinician and the patient as they work together to find effective andreasonable ways to avoid the diseases that have affected their family members,in some cases for generations.”