People who say that they exercise moderately or vigorously appear to be more likely to have lower blood pressure and blood sugar levels. The differences seen were greater for women than for men.
A large study has found that women who were consistently and even irregularly active had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than women who were inactive. Men had lower diastolic blood pressure, but there was no difference in their systolic blood pressure. Consistently or irregularly active male and female patients had fasting blood sugar levels lower than the consistently inactive patients. Women who were consistently active or irregularly active had a greater magnitude of difference for variables such as blood pressure and blood sugar than similarly active men.
This finding is from a 2-year study conducted by Kaiser Permanente Southern California's Department of Research and Evaluation in Pasadena. Researchers collected data from health records of nearly 623,000 Kaiser Permanente members who were generally healthy and who had had at least three office visits to their doctor over the course of the study.
At each visit, medical office staff asked patients about their exercise habits, including how many days a week they engaged in moderate to strenuous exercise, such as a brisk walk, and how many minutes they exercised at that level. Patients were categorized as "regularly active" if they reported 150 minutes of exercise per week or more, "irregularly active" if they reported any exercise but less than 150 minutes per week, and "inactive" if they reported no exercise.
The data was collected by Kaiser Permanente's Exercise as a Vital Sign program, which encourages physicians and other healthcare professionals to recommend more exercise to their patients if they say they exercise seldom or never.
The study was published in the journal Preventing Chronic Disease.