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Safe Exercise (High Blood Pressure)

What is the most effective exercise for people with high blood pressure that is also safe?

…My in-laws offered me an expensive cookbook for Christmas. Everyone knows how much I love to cook. My response was quick: “Please, don’t give me cookbooks. They encourage me to cook and eat more. As I spend more time in the kitchen, I gain weight with all the health risks attached. Give me a FITBIT instead.” For those who never heard of Fitbit, this device counts steps and measures burnt calories.

Three days later, a package from Amazon arrived with a tiny smart device that makes me walk more… Much more.

Conversation before she started walking

Conversation before she started walking

… and after:

Conversation after she started walking

Conversation after...

If you have high blood pressure, you know to choose your exercise carefully. See, blood pressure is often linked to heart disease. If you choose a strenuous kind of exercise that puts a lot of stress on your system, you may worsen your condition. So, if you decided to lower blood pressure using exercise, take it easy at first, monitor how you feel, and increase the intensity gradually if you feel OK.

You can start with walking. Walking is safe. Walking alone can lower blood pressure, even if you do it only 30 minutes every other day. Research showed that just doing this can help reduce your waistline by almost one inch and blood pressure by 5 points. Many studies confirm that.

Walk To Lower Blood Pressure

Human beings were built to move, but with technological progress they have invented various devices, machines and gadgets to save them from moving. Our bodies didn’t respond well to this sedentary lifestyle. A lack of movement causes all kinds of health issues, and contributes to high blood pressure and heart disease.

How Much You Should Walk

Half an hour, three times a week is your minimum. The recommendation nowadays is to walk 10,000 steps per day. Now that I have a Fitbit that counts steps, I can tell you – this is A LOT. In fact, 3×30 minutes per day will be only about 10,000-15,000 steps per week in total. But you know what – every little bit that you move instead of being still, and stand or walk instead of sitting or laying down, counts. Walking lowers blood pressure. Walking is natural. Walking is what you were created to do a lot – so it is important to find time and motivation to just do it.

Motivation To Walk More

My motivation came from using my FITBIT. This device tells me right in my face how well or poorly I’ve done today. Fitbit works as a pedometer, counts stairs and calories burned, and even hours slept. Fitbit innocently shows me the truth about my activity today – and makes me find creative ways to catch up on my walking.

FITBIT connects me to others with similar goals. It allows me to compete with them – or with myself. Fitbit gives me virtual rewards that make me get off my comfortable chair and walk.

Here is more about fitbit (click on the picture):

Fitbit is easy to set up; and it syncs with your smartphone and the global website.

I love fitbit. And I am not alone. Here are some other opinions:

“I am sold on Fitbit because I’ve lost over 30 pounds since starting with the Ultra approximately a year ago. I don’t work for the company and have received nothing from them for my enthusiasm — I just find this is something that really works for me.

“I really love the device – it keeps me motivated to burn calories and also helps me determine how much I should eat each day – but only because I log all of my food.”

I attach it to my bra, first thing in the morning (don’t want to miss a single step) and find myself checking it several times a day. I rearrange how I do things so I can meet my goals. I find myself doing WHATEVER IT TAKES to meet them, even if it’s bedtime and I think I’m too tired. I make sure I walk a flight of stairs, or two, during commercials when we watch TV. (It feels less painful to meet the goals in bits.) I now look for ways to grab a quick walk on the treadmill, or to the mailbox. A parking spot in the far corner at the store is no longer an irritation. I find myself saying , “Oh, yeah! I get steps!” We were at Costco last week. We had time, so I challenged myself to walk every aisle, looking at what was there, and find out how many steps it took.
- I now “HAVE” to get the FitBit flower to grow.
- I “HAVE” to climb the stairs so I get my atta-girls and awards.
- I “HAVE” to get my 10,000 steps. If I only have 9.201 steps and it’s time for bed, I can’t rest until I reach my goal.

After decades that included four pregnancies, the business of raising a family to the exclusion of exercise, working outside the home, a careless diet, and 25 years taking estrogen following loss of ovaries and uterus decades ago due to early cancer … I finally looked at myself in the mirror was dismayed to discover I had gotten both older and fat. I gained 50 pounds in the past 10 years. It sneaks up on a person – 50 pounds in 10 years is only 5 lbs a year – less than 1/2 lb per month. A person doesn’t even notice when it is added in ounces a month.

FitBit helps turn the tide – and you begin losing weight. You WILL get in better shape, and healthier. You’ll find that you get better in “bits”, too. By also watching your diet, you’ll lose ounces a day (instead of gain them by ounces a month). You exercise in small bits, too, and it doesn’t feel so much like pure drudgery.

I have tried dieting alone. In the past, I decided “I’m going to start exercising” but I never stay with it. But the FitBit and Aria scale keeps me focused, motivated, and on task. I notice a very real difference in my attitudes, my motivation, my desire and — already — my outcome.

Other motivational stategies

  • Get a walking buddy. This really helpa to keep you accountable.
  • Get social – there could be more benefits in walking than fitness alone. Many people get into a lunch-time walking group and socialize.
  • I love this one. Start parking further away from the store rather than looking for the closest parking spot…

Fitbit is awesome.

Just like one of the reviewers, I stopped complaining about parking spots and started climbing stairs during commercials. I walk to my cycling class and back. Walking is a great safe exercise that can turn the tide for you and make you healthier and lighter.

Here is another very popular similar device from Omron. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer web solution, but otherwise is cheaper and gets a lot of positive reviews:


Doctor’s warning

WebMD.com, a great educational website, recommends to stop exercising and take a rest if you have  high blood pressure and experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Weakness
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Chest pain
  • Unexplained weight gain or swelling
  • Pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw, or shoulder.

“Call your doctor or seek emergency treatment immediately if these symptoms do not go away quickly, or if such symptoms continue to recur.”

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