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Does blood pressure in teens predict future hypertension?

In 1976, 413 high school runners in Finland competed in a 2000-meter race. At the time of the race and in a follow-up study twenty-five years later, the faster runners had much lower blood pressures than the slower ones (International Journal of Sports Medicine, July-August 2005.)

The researchers wanted to know whether a maximal endurance test to measure aerobic fitness in adolescence would predict high blood pressure in adults. This is the first study to show that faster teen age runners have lower blood pressures and that the lower blood pressures persist long after they stop running. In their teens, the faster runners were more fit than the slower runners, and their dedication may have persisted into later life. Or the faster teen-age runners may have had some physiological advantage that kept their blood pressure lower and made them less likely to suffer heart attacks in later life. Perhaps the faster runners were genetically superior to the slower runners, or something in their lifestyles made them faster as teenagers and also caused them to have lower blood pressures throughout their lives. Either way, the findings of this study should encourage early participation in sports and lifelong exercise.

March 25, 2006

May 19th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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