WEDNESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- Physical activity may diminish the negative impact of a high-salt diet on blood pressure, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that the more people exercise, the less their blood pressure will rise in response to a high-salt diet.
"For those with low physical activity, their blood pressure will increase more if they increase their sodium intake," said study co-author Dr. Jiang He, chair of the department of epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
"It's a little bit of a surprise," He added. "But this is the first study to look at this particular association between physical activity and salt sensitivity and blood pressure. But after thinking it over it makes sense, because we already know that physical activity will reduce blood pressure."
He and his colleagues are slated to present their findings Wednesday at the American Heart Association's meeting on nutrition, physical activity and cardiovascular disease, held in Atlanta.
High blood pressure, or hypertension, is a leading cause of stroke. Because of salt's association with high blood pressure, the American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day.
To explore a potential association between exercise and the hypertensive role of dietary salt, the authors focused on roughly 1,900 men and women (average age 38) living in a rural region in northern China. None took blood pressure medication during the study.
For one week all of the participants consumed 3,000 mg of sodium a day in their diet; for another week, they were placed on a high-sodium diet -- 18,000 mg per day.
Nine blood pressure readings were taken each week, and questionnaires were completed to assess routine levels of physical activity, ranging from "very active" to "quite sedentary."<
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