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Exercise to Lower Blood Pressure

“How effective is exercise for lowering blood pressure?” This question runs through the minds of many people who were recently diagnosed with hypertension or pre-hypertension. Although doctors recommend it, many people don’t find either the time or the desire for rigorous exercise. Many, especially women, dislike gym workouts and are unsure of what kind of exercise helps to lower blood pressure.
I have researched the topic of exercise to lower blood pressure in great depth and will share the good news and great tips with you momentarily… Keep reading!

Hypertension definition

First of all, let us define hypertension and the risks associated with it. Hypertension, a.k.a high blood pressure, is defined as the elevation of systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) to over 140/90 mmHg.
The pressure is produced every time the heart pumps blood along the arterial walls, which can become rigid with age and narrow with some other factors like arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. This means that older people and those who are overweight or obese are highly prone to it.
It is very important for us to keep our blood pressure at a normal level because elevated blood pressure poses risks to fatal conditions like stroke and myocardial infarction. Some predisposing factors are not reversible but most are when you maintain a healthy lifestyle, especially physical activity and/or exercise.

Hypertension and exercise

Many studies have shown the effectiveness of exercise to halt the dangerous effects of high blood pressure. J. Warner cited that, according to the American College of Sports Medicine, in their revised guidelines on exercise and hypertension, exercise should be a cornerstone in the prevention, treatment, and control of high blood pressure. It has been proven that moderate intensity exercises like walking, biking, aerobics and in a recent study, hand grip exercises are more effective than vigorous intensity exercises which means that it’s not necessary for you to work up a sweat in order to control or prevent hypertension.
How do your body react to moderate intensity exercises? Normally, an increase in physical activity causes your heart’s pumping action to increase, which in turn causes a higher amount of blood to be delivered all throughout your system, making your blood pressure initially increase. This is just a compensatory action of your body, however, and there are a lot of benefits to consistent moderate intensity exercise.
According to Saunders, exercise stimulates the production of Nitric Oxide in the endothelial cells. Nitric oxide should be consistently produced to keep our blood vessels open. When you exercise, the increased amount of blood that is pumped along the blood vessels stimulates the production of nitric oxide thereby preventing plaque build-up. As a result, hypertension is prevented and controlled.
Researchers also found that an increase in the frequency of exercise reduces sensitivity to salt. An article written by Brenda Goodman in WebMD Health New states that exercise may cut salt’s effect on blood pressure. How salt causes increased blood pressure is not yet fully understood, however, its high sodium content and strong affinity to water increase blood volume, which causes blood pressure to rise. Sweating when you exercise causes a significant drop in sodium levels, thereby maintaining blood volume and blood pressure within the normal range.

How much exercise should you do to lower blood pressure?

Daily exercise is recommended to at least minimize and eventually eliminate the risks to developing hypertension and its complications. For high risk groups such as the elderly, obese individuals and people who have sedentary lifestyles, it is strongly recommended to exercise regularly, at least three to four times a week. For people with hypertension, 30 minutes of exercise daily is helpful in controlling your blood pressure and thereby preventing the occurrence of its fatal complications like stroke and MI which cause irreversible damage to your heart and brain.
Moderate intensity exercises are proven to have benefits but for people who are high risk and those who already have hypertension, it is recommended to consult your healthcare provider before engaging in such activity.

Warning

If you are taking antihypertensive drugs such as beta blockers and diuretics, you need to be careful. These are meant to reduce the amount of water in the body, which also reduces blood pressure. These medications impair thermoregulation and increase water loss, which can cause dehydration.

The cool down process must also be prolonged to prevent an abrupt drop in blood pressure, which may cause dizziness and other hypotensive manifestations. For overweight and obese people, exercise and diet must be simultaneously observed to receive greater benefits from physical activity.

And of course there is the debilitating effect of the stress hormone cortisol. When you are fatiqued and very stressed, blood pressure rises because cortisol reduces water excretion by the kidneys. If you are very stressed, you need exercises specially designed to reduce blood pressure through the reduction of stress. They work in as little as one week! Check out simple but effective breathing exercises to lower blood pressure.

Conclusion

You don’t need to exercise a lot to lower blood pressure but you need to have daily moderate physical activity. So be creative, find ways to walk more, do some light weight exercises. Relaxation exercises are proven to lower blood pressure, so why not try them as well, they can lower your blood pressure below 120/80 in one week. Discover more about lowering your blood pressure with exercises.

A healthy lifestyle is one of the most effective means of preventing illnesses like hypertension. Remember, it’s never too late to start living healthily.

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