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Will Walking Help Lower My Blood Pressure?

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How to walk your way to lower blood pressure and a healthier heart.

Q. Can taking a daily walk really help lower my blood pressure?

A. Absolutely. And we're not even talking power walk. "A daily 30-minute brisk stroll for two months can lower blood pressure by five to seven points, especially in people with mildly elevated BP," says Barry A. Franklin, PhD, director of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise laboratories at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan. Your goal: a reading of 120/80 or lower. If your blood pressure is considered high (edging past 140/90), however, be sure to get your physician's okay before trekking in the great outdoors this winter. "Cold weather causes tiny blood vessels throughout the body to constrict, which, in turn, can raise blood pressure and increase demands on the heart," Franklin explains. For those people, hitting the treadmill for exercise may be a better bet.

Originally published in FITNESS magazine, January 2010.

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