While dietary measures are one proactive step you can take in lowering your blood pressure, it’s not the only thing you can do to ward off increased hypertension. Exercise is another tactic you can do to improve your health and lower your numbers.
People who are sedentary notably have increased blood pressure. Statistics show they’re 30-50% more likely to have hypertension than people who frequently move their bodies throughout the day.
Many people use exercise as a way of improving their looks via weight loss. But even if you don’t lose weight, exercise can still offer you the ability to lower your blood pressure.
How Does Exercise Benefit Blood Pressure?
When you’re diagnosed with high blood pressure, your doctor will probably recommend a combination of lifestyle changes. When exercise is discussed, it will be aerobic exercise that helps reverse hypertension.
Aerobic exercise is running, bike riding, or swimming laps. But all types of exercise have a positive effect on your blood pressure – and studies show that you don’t have to overdo it to get results, either. But if you’re already diagnosed with hypertension, then aerobic exercise has shown to help more.
With exercise your blood pressure numbers could drop anywhere from 6 to 10 mm Hg. Those who already have healthy blood pressure numbers won’t see much change with added exercise, but it’s keeping problems at bay.
Your age might determine how helpful exercise is, too. The older you are, the lower the chance that exercise will lower your systolic blood pressure. But both numbers matter, so make sure you’re developing a good lifelong habit.
Is Exercise Dangerous When You Have High Blood Pressure?
If you’re worried about the common spike of blood pressure during exercise, then ask your doctor to be sure it's safe. Usually there’s a normal amount of increase and if it seems to be too high, it could point to something more deadly.
Those with definite hypertension already might be advised to take it easy, gradually increasing intensity as they get stronger. There are things you can do that could make things worse when it comes to exercise, such as over-exerting yourself. There’s no need to overdo it when moderate exercise works just as well, if not better. Make sure you use a heart monitor to see how your body is handling it.
Your doctor may have specific instructions about your exercise, depending on the overall state of your health as well as the medication that you’re on. And obviously, stop exercising if you experience chest pain, dizziness, or other severe symptoms that are cause for alarm.
How to Add Exercise to Your Daily Regimen
Barring any specific limitations on your exercise from your doctor, there are ways you can add it to your routine each day to help improve your blood pressure readings. You want to get your doctor’s opinion on how much exercise you can do.
Make sure you also find out which types of exercise he or she recommends, if there are any activities you need to steer clear of, and how your medications (if any) will react to your new schedule.
You want to add a stretching, warm up and strengthening element to your workouts for overall health and injury prevention, but for blood pressure, aerobic activity is what will benefit you most.
Aside from those previously mentioned, you can also use a jump rope, go rollerblading, or invest in a rowing machine. Any activity that gets your heart pumping and allows your body to maximize its use of oxygen will help your hypertension.
If it’s difficult for you to get started, then try beginning with 30 minutes of exercise, every other day. Then work up to a daily schedule, adding more time as you feel stronger and your readings improve.
How to Stick With It
Very few people jump for joy when the word “exercise” is mentioned. It’s usually seen as a chore rather than a benefit. But if you choose activities that you enjoy, it can change the game for you and help you stay on course.
Aerobic exercise doesn’t mean you have to walk on a treadmill day after day. You can join groups and think outside the box to participate in activities that you look forward to, rather than dread.
We're Here for You
Yes, there’s a lot to learn about living with high blood pressure. Getting in control might take some time. It’s going to mean making some changes in your life, but you can start with small changes, and you don’t have to make them all at once. Try to stay positive and work with your doctor to find the right combination of treatments. And you don’t have to do it alone.
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