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Exercise For High Blood Pressure – Exercise and Lowering High Blood Pressure
Exercise: A drug-free approach to lowering high blood pressure.
Having high blood pressure and not getting enough exercise are closely related. Discover how small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference.
Your risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) increases with age, but exercise can make a big difference. And if your blood pressure is already high, exercise can help you control it. Don’t think you’ve got to run a marathon or join a gym. Nordic Walking can really help you reduce your blood pressure.
How exercise can lower your blood pressure
Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort, which means the force on your arteries decreases, lowering your blood pressure. Being out in nature, socialising and laughing while you are out with us can really help reduce your stress levels too, and that in turn can help reduce blood pressure too. Another important way to control blood pressure is to reduce weight or to keep a healthy weight. Nordic Walking can help you with that, several clients have lost a stone or more since they started walking with us.
Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure — the top number in a blood pressure reading — by an average of 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). That’s as good as some blood pressure medications. For some people, increasing the amount of exercise can be enough to reduce the need for blood pressure medication. And if your blood pressure is at a desirable level — less than 120/80 mm Hg — exercise can really help keep it from rising as you age.
It takes about one to three months for regular exercise to have an impact on your blood pressure. But to keep your blood pressure low, you need to keep exercising. The benefits last only as long as you continue to exercise.
How much exercise do you need?
Flexibility and strengthening exercises such as lifting weights or the exercises we do during our ‘little HIT of Happiness’ are important to stay healthy, but it is the aerobic activity which mostly helps control high blood pressure. Any physical activity that increases your heart and breathing rates is considered aerobic exercise, and if you have given Nordic Walking a go, you will have noticed how the poles can help you increase your heart rate during walking, and Double poling up the hill will definitely get you breathing a bit faster!
The NHS recommends you get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise, 75 minutes of vigorous exercise or a combination of both each week. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. If you can’t set aside that much time at once, remember that shorter bursts of activity count, too. You can break up your workout into three 10-minute sessions of aerobic exercise and get the same benefit as one 30-minute session.
Strength training and high blood pressure
Strength training can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure during exercise. This increase can be dramatic — depending on how much weight you lift or how hard you work. But, weightlifting can also have long-term benefits to blood pressure that outweigh the risk of a temporary spike for most people.
If you have high blood pressure and want to include weight or strength training in your fitness program, remember:
Learn and use proper form for each exercise to reduce the risk of injury.
Don’t hold your breath. Holding your breath during exertion can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure. Instead, breathe easily and continuously during the whole exercise. (interestingly, keeping a smile on your face can make the exercise feel less tough, too!)
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