Hypertension is a persistently elevated arterial blood pressure (i.e., high blood pressure). It is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and premature death worldwide (Mills et al., 2020). If untreated, hypertension can significantly raise the risk of CVD, stroke and vascular dementia (British Heart Foundation, 2019). It is estimated that just approximately 14.4 million adults (25%) in the UK have hypertension, with many individuals still undiagnosed (British Heart Foundation, 2019). A meta-analysis found that a 10mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure reduced the risk of major CVD events by 20%, coronary heart disease (CHD) by 17%, stroke by 27%, heart failure by 28%, and death from all causes by 13% (Ettehad et al., 2016). Those with hypertension are usually less active than those without hypertension, and it has been widely accepted that an increase in physical activity is an effective lifestyle modification that can both prevent and reduce hypertension (Churilla and Ford, 2010; Fagard, 1999). 

Physical Activity & Hypertension

Being physically active is extremely good for our general health and wellbeing, and is promoted by the British Heart Foundation. There is a strong base of scientific evidence pointing towards a positive dose-response relationship between physical activity and a reduced risk of hypertension and associated diseases. This means that the more physical activity you can incorporate into your daily routine, the more you are doing to reduce your risk of hypertension. 

Increasing your physical activity is a key cornerstone of any lifestyle therapy aimed at preventing or treating hypertension. The primary benefit of physical activity for hypertension is a reduction in blood pressure. Blood pressure is usually presented as two numbers – systolic pressure, which is the top number, and diastolic blood pressure, which is the bottom number. Systolic blood pressure is measured as the heart beats, pumping blood around the body. Diastolic blood pressure is measured as the heart relaxes between each beat. 

The Benefits of Physical Activity for Hypertension

Physical activity has consistently been shown to reduce the risk of hypertension. The key benefits of physical activity for an individual with hypertension include:

  • A short-term reduction in systolic blood pressure post-physical activity, which can persist for up to 24-hours
  • Regular physical activity can lead to sustained reductions in blood pressure
  • Prevents blood vessels from narrowing further, and in some cases can lead to an increase in blood vessel diameter. 
  • Reduces the stiffness of blood vessels, allowing them to expand or contract depending on the situation
  • Improved blood flow around the body

Other benefits of physical activity for people with hypertension include:

  • Reduced oxidative stress – this can reduce the risk of neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
  • Reduced levels of basal inflammation – excess levels of basal inflammation can lead to an increased risk of suffering from chronic health conditions such as CVD, type 2 diabetes and a number of different cancers
  • Improved endothelial function – The endothelium is the inner lining of the blood vessels. Improving the function of the endothelium improves immune function, improves the transfer of nutrients from the blood to working muscles, and general blood flow around the body
  • Improved insulin sensitivity and insulin response – improves glucose control, which is particularly important to help manage or reduce the risks associated with type 2 diabetes
  • Improved psychological wellbeing
  • Improved quality of life

KiActiv® Value Proposition for Hypertension

KiActiv® Health is a digital therapy which aims to empower people with long term conditions and those on rehabilitation pathways to self-care at home using their personal everyday physical activity. It utilises a personalised, Mentor-guided digital service which aims to empower individuals to make sustainable behaviour change in the context of their health, capacity and environment. The KiActiv® Health service is available 24/7 and requires no visits to clinics or gyms. Physical activity is something that is often dreaded or feared, and there is a common misconception that for physical activity to be valuable it must be vigorous or exercise based. Imparting an understanding that physical activity is more than just exercise and sport, and that every move matters, is vital for empowering effective self-management. We aim to help people living with hypertension to improve the self-management of their condition by supporting them to optimise their everyday physical activity in the context of health

Client Quotes

“Activity helps your mental state. The more your mental state is improved, the more you want to do activity.” 71, Female, Hypertension & Anxiety

“I’m seeing the benefits in terms of my mental health, my sleep, just everything. I’m really positive now going forward.”37, Male, Hypertension & Type 2 Diabetes

“There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ve lost a couple of pounds. I can feel it in myself. It’s important for me, I don’t use the scales, I just go off how I feel. Just losing a couple of pounds, I feel lighter and more motivated.”53, Female, Hypertension, Obesity & Type 2 Diabetes

“I’m feeling much better and have better balance. When I move, I am moving faster.”80, Female, Hypertension

“I have noticed I’m able to go up and down stairs quicker as I feel stronger, my legs are stronger. I’m not as breathless as I was as I’ve been doing it more.”80, Female, Hypertension

“My BP has dropped and I’m only fringe diabetic.”59, Male, Hypertension & Type 2 Diabetes

“My blood pressure has gone down. I was put on this programme to reduce blood pressure and it’s reinforced to me that I can get it down.” – 68, Female, Hypertension & Obesity

“It’s been so helpful. I feel like I’ve got a lot of tools there that I can use. I want it to work going forward. I’m feeling positive going forward.” – 63, Female, Hypertension & Fibromyalgia

“This is a much better way and a much more achievable way of looking after your health. You’ve really opened my eyes. This is a fantastic thing that KiActiv® are doing.”– 71, Female, Hypertension & Anxiety

“Made me aware of my need to exercise for health and feeling happier in myself. Being aware of the need to exercise lead me to looking at mine and my husband’s diet, what we eat and what times we eat.”72, Female, Hypertension

“It has made me understand further how important physical activity is for my physical and mental health.”80, Female, Hypertension

“I feel fitter and healthier from the additional exercise and have lost several pounds of weight.”69, Male, Hypertension & Type 2 Diabetes