(HealthDay News) — Physical activity has extensive benefits and should represent an important first-line lifestyle behavior treatment for people with mildly to moderately elevated blood pressure or cholesterol who otherwise have a low risk for heart disease, according to a scientific statement from the American Heart Association published online in Hypertension.

Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD, from the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues discuss the mild- to moderate-risk patient groups indicated for lifestyle-only treatment for elevated blood pressure or cholesterol, describe recommendations for prescribing lifestyle treatment with physical activity, and provide resources for clinicians to support increased physical activity in their patients.

The researchers note that among US adults, an estimated 21% and 28 to 37% have mild- to moderate-risk blood pressure and cholesterol, respectively, and lifestyle behavior treatment only should be their first-line treatment. Increasing physical activity has extensive benefits that include improving blood pressure and cholesterol, and such benefits are similar, superior, or complementary to other healthy lifestyle changes. Assessment and prescription of physical activity are recommended for all patients, including those with elevated blood pressure and cholesterol and mild to moderate risk.

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“In our world where physical activity is increasingly engineered out of our lives and the overwhelming default is to sit, the message that we must be relentless in our pursuit to ‘sit less and move more’ throughout the day is more important than ever,” Gibbs said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to the California Strawberry Commission and MGP Ingredients Inc.

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