Physical activity in your leisure time could help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level.

Almost 78 million American adults have high blood pressure and one highly recommended way to control it, is to exercise. If you’ve been told to increase your physical activity to lower your BP levels don’t despair — it doesn’t mean training for the iron man! A new study says that exercising for even half an hour a day will help.

Researchers collated data from13 studies on the effects of physical activity on blood pressure involving 136,846 people in the United States, Europe and East Asia. At kick-off, all participants had healthy blood pressure, but after two to 45 years, more than 15,607 had hypertension.

People who exercised more than four hours a week in their leisure time had a 19 percent lower risk of high blood pressure than those who exercised less than one hour a week. Those who did one to three hours a week of leisure exercise, had an 11 percent lower risk than those with under an hour of activity.

The findings, which were published by the American Heart Association, suggest that the more recreational physical activity you get, the more you are protected from developing high blood pressure.

“Hypertension is a risk factor for cardiovascular and kidney disease — thus, it is important to prevent and control hypertension,” said Wei Ma, M.D., Ph.D., study co-author and associate professor at the Shandong University School of Public Health in Jinan, China. “To try to lower your risk of high blood pressure, you should exercise more in your leisure time.” Recreational exercise may affect several factors tied to high blood pressure — helping people keep off extra pounds, improving poor insulin sensitivity or reducing the blood vessels’ resistance to blood flow, Ma said.

Interestingly, the researchers noted that the study found no correlation between physical exertion at work and risk of high blood pressure; it didn’t show that physical exercise prevents high blood pressure; and the results also don’t specify whether people who exercise for fun also have healthier lifestyles and therefore better blood pressure control.

Learn How RESPeRATE Can Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally