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Walking away from High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure (hypertension) is known as “the silent killer” because symptoms frequently do not surface until the onset of life-threatening complications, such as kidney failure, heart failure or stroke.

Nearly one in five Americans suffers from high blood pressure, despite substantial evidence linking modifiable risk factors (i.e., exercise and diet) with the condition.

Further evidence comes from a Japanese study of 6,017 men (35-60 years of age) with normal blood pressure (less than 140/90) and without history of high blood pressure. Analysis of data on work and leisure-time physical activity, length of walk to work, and other variables (alcohol intake, smoking habits, etc.) revealed that duration of the daily walk to work was independently associated with a reduced risk for hypertension.

Specifically, men whose walk to work lasted 21 minutes or more had a decreased risk compared with those whose walk lasted 10 minutes or less, and this association was maintained even after considering age, body mass, alcohol consumption, smoking status, blood pressure, and frequency of other physical activity.

The authors’ concluding recommendation may be the most important lesson: “Even persons who drive to work or use public transportation may benefit from parking or leaving their transportation more than a 20-minute walk from the office.” Talk to your doctor about the dangers of high blood pressure and about what you can do to minimize your risk.


Hayashi T, Tsumura K, Suematsu C, et al. Walking to work and the risk for hypertension in men: the Osaka Health Survey. Annals of Internal Medicine 1999: Vol. 130, pp21-26.