Increasing Steps by 3,000 Per Day Can Lower Blood Pressure in Older Adults, Study Finds

An estimated 80% of older adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. Maintaining healthy blood pressure can protect against serious conditions like heart failure, heart attacks, and strokes.

A new study found that adding a relatively minimal amount of movement, about 3,000 steps per day, can significantly reduce high blood pressure in older adults.

Pescatello worked with Elizabeth Lefferts, the lead author of the paper, Duck-chun Lee, and others in Lee’s lab at Iowa State University. They published their findings in a recent issue of the Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease.

Pescatello is an expert on hypertension (the clinical term for high blood pressure) and exercise. Her previous research has demonstrated that exercise can have a significant immediate and long-lasting impact on lowering blood pressure in hypertensive adults.

This study sought to determine if older adults with hypertension could receive these benefits by moderately increasing their daily walking, which is one of the easiest and most popular forms of physical activity for this population.

The study focused on a group of sedentary older adults between ages 68 and 78 who walked an average of about 4,000 steps per day before the study.

The team conducted the study during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, which meant they had to do everything remotely.

The researchers sent participants a kit with pedometers, blood pressure monitors, and step diaries for participants to log how much they were walking each day.

On average, participants’ systolic and diastolic blood pressure decreased by an average of seven and four points, respectively, after the intervention.

The findings suggest that the 7,000-step regimen the participants in the study achieved is on-par with reductions seen with anti-hypertensive medications. Eight of the 21 participants were already on anti-hypertensive medications. Those participants still saw improvements in systolic blood pressure from increasing their daily activity.

This work was a pilot study, and the researchers hope to use these data to launch a larger clinical trial.


Elizabeth C. Lefferts, Joseph M. Saavedra, Bong Kil Song, Angelique G. Brellenthin, Linda S. Pescatello, Duck-chul Lee. Increasing Lifestyle Walking by 3000 Steps per Day Reduces Blood Pressure in Sedentary Older Adults with Hypertension: Results from an e-Health Pilot Study. Journal of Cardiovascular Development and Disease, 2023; 10 (8): 317 DOI: 10.3390/jcdd10080317

Linda S Pescatello, Yin Wu, Simiao Gao, Jill Livingston, Bonny Bloodgood Sheppard, Ming-Hui Chen. Do the combined blood pressure effects of exercise and antihypertensive medications add up to the sum of their parts? A systematic meta-review. BMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine, 2021; 7 (1): e000895 DOI: 10.1136/bmjsem-2020-000895

University of Connecticut. (2023, September 27). Increasing steps by 3,000 per day can lower blood pressure in older adults, study finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 28, 2023 from

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