A sedentary lifestyle with little exercise is often related to various health problems, including high blood pressure. If you have been diagnosed with hypertension, find out how regular exercise can improve your blood pressure and overall health.
Importance of Aerobic Activity for Hypertension
For most people, when they become more physically active, they lower their blood pressure an average of ten mm Hg, or millimeters of mercury. To many, this amount may mean the difference between needing to take a blood pressure medication or not. The type of exercise that is needed to reduce hypertension is aerobic exercise.
Aerobic activity is very effective exercise for hypertension. According to the Mayo Clinic and the American Heart Association, regular exercise is vital to fighting hypertension, and aerobic activity should be included. Aerobic exercise is actually the easiest type of exercise and the most beneficial to your health. In addition to lowering blood pressure, it strengthens your lungs and heart, helps the immune system and maintains healthy body cells. Aerobic exercise also helps to control or prevent many diseases.
What is aerobic activity? Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that increases both your heart and breathing rates. Cardio exercise is also aerobic activity. The activity should require effort on your part and should be done 3-5 times a week for a minimum of 30 minutes. An activity or exercise that is aerobic allows your body to supply and replenish the oxygen used by the muscles during the activity.
Sample Exercises for Hypertension
Aerobic exercise can be accomplished in many different ways. Several excellent methods include these exercises:
- Walking: Both leisure strolls and power walking are beneficial.
- Biking: Biking can provide a good workout for the core and leg muscles.
- Swimming: This is a good no impact exercise for people with joint problems or anyone new to exercise. It provides a total body workout.
- Jogging: Jogging provides an effective cardio workout and burns more calories than walking. If you are a beginner, start jogging slowly and work your way up to a faster pace. Read Beginner Jogging for guidance.
- Dancing: Taking a dance class like jazzercise or simply dancing the night away at a club can also burn calories and give you an aerobic workout.
- Rollerblading: Rollerblading is a fun way to get your heart pumping and exercising both your upper and lower body simultaneously.
Some household chores also count as mild to moderate aerobic activity. You can fit in some exercise and take care of your home all at once with these tasks:
- Sweeping and mopping the floor
- Cleaning the yard by raking leaves or old grass
- Polishing a wood floor
- Scrubbing a tub, shower stall or floors
- Mowing the lawn
There are also many types of exercise equipment that can be used for aerobic exercise. This type of equipment comes in many different price ranges. Appropriate equipment includes:
- Stationary bikes
- Stair steppers
- Rowing machines
- Elliptical machines
Warm Up and Cool Down
Remember to begin an exercise routine gradually and work your way up. For example, exercise for 15 minutes daily the first week and then increase your workout to 30 minutes daily the next week. Read Beginner Exercise Routine for more guidance and some beginner workout recommendations.
It is important to always begin your exercise session with a warm up that lasts from five to ten minutes. Your warm up is important for loosening your muscles and preparing your body and mind for the exercise session. Your warm up could be a slower version of your actual exercise activity, for example - walk before you jog. Your warm up also needs to include stretching. A general guide is to spend half of your warm up time on each activity. Do your choice of aerobic activity for about 30 minutes. It is important to maintain the intensity of the activity throughout the session.
Your cool down time begins as you slowly decrease the intensity of the aerobic activity. Then spend the last five minutes repeating your stretches as you finish your cool down period.
Check With Your Doctor
Everyone should consult with their doctor before starting a new exercise program, especially if you have high blood pressure. It is a good idea to check with your doctor to make sure the exercise program is right for you. This is especially important if you fall into certain groups that are at higher risk. Hypertension is a chronic health condition. People with high blood pressure are already at high risk, but other factors that raise this risk even higher include:
- You are more than 20 pounds overweight or obese.
- You are a smoker.
- In addition to high blood pressure, you have an additional chronic health condition.
- You have experienced a heart attack or have a heart condition.
- There is a family history of problems that are heart related before the age of 55.
- You experience chest pain with exertion.
- You experience dizziness with any exertion.
- You are male aged 40 or over.
- You are female age 50 or over.
- You take prescription medication.
- You have not been to the doctor in a few years and do not know the current status of your health.
Exercise Can Reduce High Blood Pressure
Exercise is key to good overall health. With regular aerobic exercise, you can reduce your high blood pressure, but it is also important to maintain a healthy diet and lifestyle for optimum health.