High Blood Pressure and Exercise

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • Maintaining a physically active lifestyle that includes regular exercise is one step towards preventing heart disease and promoting low blood pressure.


    Benefits of Exercise


    Here are a few health benefits linked to exercise:

    • Stronger heart and cardiovascular system.
    • Improved circulation.
    • Reduce symptoms of heart failure.
    • Boost energy levels.
    • Increase endurance.
    • Increase strength & muscle tone.
    • Better balance and flexibility.
    • Stronger bones.
    • Decreased stress, anxiety, & depression.
    • Decreased body fat.
    • Better sleep.

    How does exercise lowers blood pressure?


    When you exercise regularly your heart becomes stronger and more efficiently circulate blood. This means the heart doesn't have to work so hard and it takes less force against your artery walls to circulate oxygenated blood through the body.

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    Being regularly active can reduce your systolic (top number) blood pressure by 5 to 10 mm Hg. However, don't expect overnight results. It can take up to 3 months for regular exercise to impact blood pressure levels.


    Exercise Precautions


    If you are currently sedentary don't just jump into an exercise routine. Discuss your plans with your doctor. Keep in mind that medications can influence your reaction to exercise. Start at a low level of intensity and duration and gradually increase.


    Listen to your body. If you become fatigued or experience heart palpitations, take a break. If you experience pain (particularly chest pain), stop.


    Avoid lying down after exercise. Instead sit upright in a chair or walk around.


    Avoid extreme temperatures after exercise, such as a very hot or cold shower, sauna, or Jacuzzi. Extreme temperatures can impact arterial dilation and blood pressure.


    How Much Exercise


    Your exercise plan should include aerobic activity in addition to strength training and stretching.

    Aerobic activities will increase your heart rate and breathing. Here are examples of aerobic activities:

    • Jogging
    • Biking
    • Brisk walking
    • Swimming
    • Climbing stairs
    • Household chores, such as mowing the lawn
    • Recreational sports, such as volleyball or basketball

    Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. You can always start with 10 minute sessions three times a day.


    Weight Training & High Blood Pressure


    You want to use caution when lifting weights. There is potential for weight lifting to cause a drastic rise in blood pressure. However, there are many benefits linked to strength training, including a lower blood pressure.


    I'll refer you to this article to learn more:

    Is strength training bad for blood pressure?

    Stay Safe


    When you begin an exercise program, start slowly to reduce your risk of injury. Be sure to include a warm up and cool down activity as part of your routine.


    Gradually increase the intensity of your workouts.


    Immediately stop exercise and seek medical care if you experience any of the following:

    • Chest pain or tightness
    • Pain in an arm or your jaw
    • Dizziness or faintness
    • Excessive fatigue
    • Severe shortness of breath
    • An irregular heartbeat

    Also, monitor your blood pressure to determine if your physical activity is gradually lowering your blood pressure.

  • Be sure to sign up for the free e-course 7 Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure at http://lowerbloodpressurewithlisa.com.

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Published On: June 20, 2011