A new study using Apple Watches shows that walking more might lead to significant improvements in blood pressure (BMP).
Essential reading: Top connected blood pressure monitors
The Apple Watch is being used in an increasing number of studies by scientists. It’s no wonder. The device is the most popular watch in the world and worn by millions. The data from wearables is gradually becoming a treasure trove of information for medical researchers.
The latest research comes as part of the Framingham Heart Study. This is a cardiovascular study that has been going for over 70 years. Yes, since 1948 participants in Framingham, Massachusetts have been involved with research on identifying factors that contribute to cardiovascular disease (CVD).
This latest test involved a total of 638 people who were asked to wear an Apple Watch for a minimum of 5 hours per day. They were also required to take their blood pressure (BMP) reading at least once per week for around 6 months. On average participants wore their smartwatch for 14 hours per day and walked 7,531 steps.
The results were presented at the American College of Cardiology’s annual meeting. This showed that for every extra 1,000 steps participants made during the day, their systolic blood pressure went down by around 0.45 points. The proportion was higher for men (0.62) than women (0.36). Simple math shows this can add up quite a bit if you put in an effort to walk 5,000+ more steps per day.
Researchers were cautious, though, not to draw general conclusions.
“I do want to stress that these analyses do not establish causality or directionality of the association in any way.” said author Mayank Sardana, of the University of California, in an interview with cardiology journal TCTMD.
“So we cannot say that a lower step count led to higher blood pressure based on this study because ours was a cross-sectional analysis.”
Investigators added that further research is needed to determine the effect of body mass index (BMI) in this equation. That’s because the unknown is how much lower BMI contributes to reducing BPM. When this was added as a factor in the results this relationship was attenuated (Model 2). It could mean, of course, that those with higher BMI simply walked less.
Nonetheless, the initial results do provide findings that warrant further research in this area.
“This study solidifies our understanding of the relationship between physical activity and blood pressure and raises the possibility that obesity or body mass index accounts for a lot of that relationship,” Sardana added.
“Going forward, it would be useful to look at how smart devices might be leveraged to promote physical activity, reduce the burden of obesity and potentially reduce blood pressure”.
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