Exercise to reduce high blood pressure
If you have high blood pressure, or you want to reduce the risk of getting it, exercise is just what the doctor ordered. Physical activity is a great approach to lowering high blood pressure, and you may be surprised to discover how small changes can make a big difference.
Regular physical exercise can reduce your chance of getting high blood pressure (hypertension) by 50% and your chance of stroke by 27 %. You may even be able to take fewer medications. The effects are immediate: One bout of aerobic exercise reduces your blood pressure 5-7 mmHg, and that can last for 24 hours!
Sometimes the first step can be the hardest. Let’s look at what to do, how often, and some general guidelines – and hopefully you’ll see that it’s not that daunting.
What does “exercise” mean? Whatever gets you moving! Of course, there is a range of physical activity you can do, from very light to very strenuous, but don’t underestimate the power of all different kinds of movement. Even household tasks like gardening and cleaning have value. Any time you’re off the couch, you are doing good things for your heart. You can get ideas for exercise that is good for lowering blood pressure here.
According to the American Heart Association, your goal should be 150 minutes of moderate activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity each week.
What is the definition of “moderate activity”?
- Can you chat while you’re working out? That probably means you should take it up a notch or two.
- Can you sing and keep up your pace? That’s another possible indication that you should dial up the intensity.
- If you can speak briefly while exercising but can’t have a long or comfortable conversation – there’s a good chance that you are on target.
- Are you running out of breath quickly? Are you having trouble speaking at all? Slow down! You may be working too hard, especially if you are short of breath.
You can also invest in a heart rate monitor if you want to get an accurate picture of your level of exertion.
Tips for success
If you are new to working out, start slowly and add intensity gradually. It’s very important to warm up before working out and to cool down once you’re done. If it’s very warm outside, consider exercising indoors with air conditioning or waiting until the temperature goes down.
Even if you have a desk job, there are things you can do throughout the day to stay active. Stretch and move once an hour, even for five minutes. Take the stairs to colleague’s office or the long way to the water cooler. If you’re working from home, take a break and go to the kitchen for a drink of water.
Sometimes all we need is a little nudge. Try setting a reminder on your Dario App, phone, or computer, or enlist a friend as an exercise buddy for support.
If you have the budget and desire, you can work with a personal trainer. A Dario coach can work with you on an exercise plan as well.
Walking: Your heart’s best friend
Walking is a great way to get your heart rate up and your blood pressure down. It doesn’t cost anything, you can do it at your convenience, and you don’t need anything aside from sneakers.
Discover the many potential health benefits of walking, including:
- Prevent or manage high blood pressure, heart disease, and more
- Improve cardiovascular fitness
- Lose body fat and maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce stress and tension
- Improve your mood, memory, cognition, and sleep
Here’s a compelling reason to walk more: research found that people who took more steps daily, as tracked by their watch, had lower blood pressure on average than those taking fewer steps.
Stay motivated! Track your progress. See your number of steps increase as you walk your way to fitness. People who used pedometers got about 30 more minutes a week of moderate to vigorous physical activity, according to a recent study. They were also 66% less likely to have a serious cardiovascular event like a heart attack or stroke. There are lots of apps that you can use as well, including the Dario App.
What to keep in mind when you work out
Exercise makes your blood pressure rise for a short period of time. Generally, this is nothing to worry about, and when you stop the activity, your blood pressure should quickly return to normal. Most people with hypertension should be able to exercise quite safely, but it’s a good idea to speak to your doctor before you start any new physical activity.
If you experience any of the following, stop exercising and call the doctor:
- Shortness of breath
- Fast or irregular heartbeats
- Pain or pressure your shoulder, arm, neck, or jaw
- Chest pain
- Lightheadedness, weakness, or dizziness
If these symptoms happen again or persist, seek emergency treatment right away.
Ready, set, go!
Whatever you choose – make it fun. You have a better chance of sticking with something you enjoy. Physical activity really is one of the best things you can do to lower your pressure, so know that every step you take is a step in the right direction.
The articles provided on this website are for informational purposes only. In addition, it is written for a generic audience and not a specific case; therefore, this information should not be used for diagnostic or medical treatment. This site does not attempt to replace the patient-physician relationship and fully recommends the reader to seek out the best care from his/her physician and/or diabetes educator.