The more physically active you are, the less your blood pressure rises in response to a high-salt diet, says study.
"Patients should be advised to increase their physical activity and eat less sodium," said Casey M. Rebholz, lead author of the study and a medical student at the Tulane School of Medicine and doctoral student at the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans.
"Restricting sodium is particularly important in lowering blood pressure among more sedentary people."
Investigators compared study participants' blood pressure on two one-week diets, one low in sodium (3,000 mg/day) and the other high in sodium (18,000 mg/day).
The participants were 1,906 Han Chinese adults (average age 38) in the Genetic Epidemiology Network of Salt Sensitivity (GenSalt), a large project to identify genetic and environmental factors contributing to salt sensitivity.
"The study needs to be repeated, but I suspect that the relationship between physical activity and salt-sensitivity will apply to other populations," added Rebholz.
The study has been reported at the American Heart Association's Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism/Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention 2011 Scientific Sessions.