Swimming is often promoted as good aerobic exercise for seniors because it is easy on the joints. Now a small study suggests that it can also help lower blood pressure.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin recruited 43 men and women (average age 60), all of whom had high blood pressure or pre-hypertension. The participants were randomly assigned to supervised swimming sessions or to learn relaxation exercises. The swimmers group participated in three or four sessions a week for 12 weeks, working up to 45 minutes of swimming per session.
By the end of the study, their systolic blood pressure (the top number) had dropped by an average of nine points. No blood pressure changes were seen in the relaxation group. When the swimmers wore portable monitors to track their blood pressure over 24 hours, their systolic blood pressure, on average, was 119 mm Hg, down from 128 mm Hg average at the start.