Bicycling, walking, and hypertension

In honor of World Health Day – April 7, 2013 – Dr. Walter Willett, Harvard School of Public Health Department of Nutrition Chair, participated in a discussion with Dr. Anne Lusk, Research Scientist, and Dr. Morteza Asgarzadeh, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, about hypertension.
The discussion, recorded and available as video here, explores the importance of regular physical activity and changes to the built environment that might make it easier to increase levels of physical activity. This video also provides information about how to prevent high blood pressure, and the best environments for fostering healthy behaviors.

Important points include:

  • Routine physical activity, such as walking and bicycling to work or shops, is a convenient and effective way to help prevent high blood pressure. It’s also considered superior to going to the gym, as routine activity is easily incorporated into one’s day rather than requiring its own dedicated time.
  • Walking helps prevent hypertension, and brisk walking has better effects as compared to slow walking.
  • Bicycling is considered superior to walking for weight control and other obesity-related health outcomes such as diabetes, cancer, stroke, and mortality in addition to prevention of hypertension.
  • Walk environments are most frequented if they lead to destinations in a well-connected network of routes. Bicycle environments are frequented if built as cycle tracks, barrier-protected bicycle-exclusive paths beside sidewalks,“Social Cycle Tracks,” or if they’re built wide enough for a parent to bicycle beside a child.
  • Hypertension prevention through brisk walking and bicycling is preferable, but for someone who has already developed hypertension, it can also be alleviated through brisk walking and bicycling.

We invite you to view the video and learn more about the importance of bicycling and walking in preventing and alleviating hypertension.