Lowering Your Blood Pressure

Lowering Your Blood Pressure

Does Regular Exercise Really Lower Blood Pressure? 

There is plenty of research to suggest that regular exercise can be a powerful tool in helping to lower blood pressure. Of course, every person is different but generally, if you have a blood pressure of 90- 179 you are fully within your ability to begin increasing your physical activity. Although, it is recommended to gain advice from a doctor or nurse if you have a history of blood pressure problems, or if you are unsure.

// How Can Exercise Lower Your Blood Pressure? 

Regular exercise helps to strengthen your heart. A strong heart is able to pump more blood around your body with less effort. If your heart doesn’t need to pump as hard, the force on your arteries decreases which lowers your blood pressure. 

Exercising regularly can lower your systolic blood pressure as much as some blood pressure medications, and for some people, enough exercise can completely reduce the need for blood pressure medication.

It’s not just for people who have high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is at a desirable level, regular physical activity can prevent it from rising at a later age, and will help you to maintain a healthy weight (another important way to control your blood pressure). 

// How Much Exercise Do You Need?

The key to lowering your blood pressure is regular exercise. This is because it takes around 1-3 months for it to have an impact on the blood pressure, and the benefits, they only last as long as you continue to exercise. 

Aerobic activity is one of the most effective ways you can control high blood pressure. Flexibility and strengthening exercises such as weight training are also important elements. Just adding a moderate physical activity to your daily routine can help, you do not need to spend half of your life in a gym.

Any exercise which increases your heart and breathing rate is considered aerobic. Some examples include:

  • Household chores. Mowing the lawn, raking leaves or scrubbing the floor. 
  • Active sports like tennis or basketball 
  • Climbing stairs 
  • Walking 
  • Jogging 
  • Bicycling 
  • Swimming 
  • Dancing 

At least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 of vigorous aerobic activity per week is enough to keep your heart healthy. Don’t worry if you cannot block out that time all at once. Three 10-minute sessions can achieve the same benefits as one 30-minute session.

If your day-to-day life means you spend a lot of time sitting down, try to reduce this where you can. Aim for 5-10 minute walks every hour. 

// Weight Training and High Blood Pressure 

Although weight training can cause your blood pressure to increase temporarily–this can sometimes be dramatic depending on how much weight you lift–the long-term benefits to blood pressure outweighs the risk of a temporary spike. It can also help to reduce overall cardiovascular risk. 

It’s recommended to incorporate some strength training exercises of all the major muscle groups into your fitness routine at least twice a week. 

If you want to incorporate weight training but have high blood pressure, remember:

  • Using proper form can reduce the risk of injury 
  • Avoid holding your breath as this can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure. Keep your breathing controlled, light and continuously throughout the exercises
  • Use lighter weights with more repetitions to reduce strain.
  • Listen to your body. If you become dizzy or experience shortness of breath, stop your activity right away.

// Stay Safe 

To reduce risk, start slowly. Don’t forget to warm up before you exercise and cool down when you finish. Build up the intensity of your workouts gradually, there is no rush.

If you take any medication regularly you should consult your doctor to see if your exercise may have an effect on this medication.

You should stop exercising and seek immediate care if you experience any of these warning signs:

  • Chest, neck, jaw or arm pain or tightness
  • Dizziness or faintness
  • Severe shortness of breath
  • An irregular heartbeat

If you are over the age of 45, smoke or have stopped in the last 6 months, are overweight or obese, have a chronic health condition, or other heart-related problems, it may be best to check with your doctor before you jump into a regular activity program. 

// Monitor Your Progress

The only way to keep ahead and detect high blood pressure is to keep track of your readings. Home monitoring can let you know the effectiveness of your fitness routine, and reduce your visits to a doctor, however, it is in no way a substitute for those visits as home monitors have their limitations.

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