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Cardiorespiratory Fitness can Delay Spikes in Blood Pressure for Aging Men

Update Date: Sep 15, 2014 03:35 PM EDT

Physical fitness has been tied to boosting health benefits. In a new study, researchers examined how cardiorespiratory fitness affected blood pressure levels in aging men. The team found that men who were more fit were less likely to experience spikes in their blood pressure that are caused by aging.

"Since regular physical activity is the primary and most modifiable determinant of fitness level, our results underscore the importance for a man to increase his regular physical activity to prevent his natural, aging-related rise in blood pressure," said study co-author Junxiu Liu, M.D., PhD candidate, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Arnold School of Public Health, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C.

For this study, the researchers examined 13,953 men between the ages of 20 and 90 from the time period of 1970 through to 2006. At the beginning of the study, the men did not have high blood pressure (hypertension), heart disease and cancer. The researchers collected data on the men's naturally-occurring systolic blood pressure (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) hypertension from the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study. Men who were a part of this study completed three to 28 follow-up examinations. Fitness levels were determined based on the participants' performance on a treadmill exercise stress test.

The team noted that for men in general, SBP levels tend to rise to prehypertension levels at around the age of 46 while DBP levels start to increase at the age of 42. At the end of the study, the researchers found that men who had higher levels of cardiorespiratory fitness delayed the start of rising SBP levels to the age of 54. For these fit men, their levels of DBP did not reach prehypertension levels until around 90-years-old. These delays in rising blood pressure were independent to the men's body fat percentage.

"Also interesting to note is that when we examined the percentage of body fat data, the systolic and diastolic numbers were not significantly changed These results support our hypothesis that a man's age-related blood pressure rise was independent of his percentage of body fat," Sui said in the press release.

The researchers did not investigate this link in women. However, they aim to study it down the line. The study was published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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