According to the guidelines from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, adults should aspire to perform at least 150 minutes to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise (which includes activities such as walking) every week to enjoy the health benefits of working out. For those who perform vigorous exercise, that number shrinks down to 75 to 150 minutes per week.
However, according to an all-new study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine, if you're looking to maximize your heart health and keep your blood pressure low well into old age, you should be aiming for getting even more moderate-intensity exercise. Read on for more about this study, and what it means for you. And for more great advice from the front lines of science, make sure you're aware of the One Major Side Effect of Sitting on the Couch Too Much, Says New Study.
At Least Five Hours of Exercise Every Week
According to the experts at The Mayo Clinic, moderate-intensity exercise includes things such as "brisk walking, swimming, and mowing the lawn." "As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity every day," their health experts advise. "If you want to lose weight, maintain weight loss, or meet specific fitness goals, you may need to exercise more."
If your exercise goals include preventing high blood pressure—and ultimately your longevity—the new study concludes that you should be doing upwards of five hours of moderate exercise every week. For the record, that's exactly the higher end of what the latest guidelines recommend—or 300 minutes. So if you're currently meeting the recommended minimum of 150 minutes per week, you're only half-way there, according to this research.
"Moderate physical activity levels may need to exceed current minimum guidelines to prevent hypertension onset using 2017 American College of Cardiology/American Heart Association definitions," the study concludes. And if you prefer walking for your exercise, make sure you're up to speed on The Single Worst Shoes for Walking Every Day, According to a New Study.
How They Arrived at That Number
The researchers analyzed a project titled the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults, which began with more than 5,000 teens in the mid-80s and extended for the next 30 years. According to the questionnaires that the study participants completed over the years, the only ones who avoided hypertension were those who completed more than 300 minutes of exercise every week.
For the record, nearly half of all adults in the United States suffer from hypertension, which the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association define as blood pressure at or above 130/80 mm Hg. Some of the side effects of high blood pressure levels can put you at risk for cardiovascular disease as well as various cardiac events, both of which can be fatal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly half a million deaths in the U.S. included hypertension as a primary or contributing cause in 2018.
Signs of hypertension include heart pain, kidney issues, stroke, sexual dysfunction, and vision problems, among others.
The Study Noted Racial Disparities
According to the study, black respondents reported far less exercise—and were suffering more acutely from the effects of hypertension—than white respondents.
If You Prefer Vigorous Exercise
It's worth noting that if you perform vigorous-intensity exercises—or exercises that leave you out of breath and induce sweat after only a few minutes, such as running, swimming, and playing sports—the new research doesn't say you should exceed the current recommendations of at least 75 minutes per week. And for more on the health benefits of exercise, make sure you're aware of The One Major Side Effect of Going on Single 1-Hour Walk, Say Experts.