Looking for a drug-free way to control hypertension? Get ready to move your body, because we’ve compiled 9 of the best exercises to assist you in controlling your high blood pressure.
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Why you should exercise if you have high blood pressure
Hypertension can be quite a deadly disease on its own. It can also lead to cardiovascular diseases, such as a heart attack, stroke, or diabetes.
As we age, our chances of developing high blood pressure increase. Being non-active and making unhealthy lifestyle decisions makes the chances even higher.
Exercise offers many benefits for people with hypertension. It can either be used to prevent the disease or to manage it. Regardless of which reason, physical activity is one of the best ways to lower blood pressure that doesn’t require medicine or money.
Exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure.
Regular exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure in many clinical studies conducted. The key point here is regular exercise. You should be trying to move your body a minimum of 5 days per week, 30 minutes each day. If you can not do continual 30 minutes of movement, it is more tah ok to break it up into three 10-minute sessions to begin building endurance.
The point of a fitness routine is to get the heart pumping. Exercise can increase the strength of your heart. As your heart becomes stronger, it’s able to pump blood easier to the rest of your body. Your heart not having to work as hard helps to keep your blood pressure low. Benefits of exercising when you have high blood pressure include:
- An immediate reduction in both systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure numbers
- Reduces the fat tissues that blood circulates to and keeps you at a healthy weight
- Prevents high blood pressure for those at risk but haven’t developed it
- Decreases the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes
- Slows the progression of white matter hyperintensities, which are brain abnormalities linked to dementia, depression, trouble walking, and sped up brain aging
- Lowers stress, which contributes to most diseases
- Increases energy
- Can increase your lifespan 4-9 percent
You don’t have to change your day around or go sign up at the gym. The exercises we have gathered are easy to do at home or during your break at work. Even better, is that it doesn’t take up a majority of your day.
It’s recommended to include at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity a week. All it takes is 30 minutes 5x a week. You can even break it down to 10 minutes of activity 3x a day.
Tips for a great workout when you have hypertension
When making any lifestyle changes, the easier they are to maintain, the more likely you are to stick with them. Don’t dread having to exercise. Make it fun!
Find an activity you enjoy. Grab a friend and bring them along with you. If you already have a gym membership, see if they have any group classes. It won’t seem like as much of a chore if you enjoy it. It is also much more likely you will continue if you have a group or buddy to do exercise with! The community aspect can be a huge motivational factor for sticking to a hypertension exercise routine.
Start slow with your new exercise routine. If you have hypertension and are beginning an exercise routine for the first time in a while, it is ok for you to pace yourself. Do not overdo it on day one!
The next tip is to always warm up before your activity and cool down afterward. You don’t want your pressure levels shooting sky-high too quickly or plummeting suddenly. The warm-up and cool-down allow your heart rate to increase gradually and decrease without the sudden changes that could cause trouble.
“A simple way to warm up for exercise is to move your arms in circles for 1 to 2 minutes. The circular movements will get blood flowing and pumping with out drastically increasing your heart rate for a nice and easy warm up” Dr Norm Shealy Says.
9 best exercises to control hypertension (high blood pressure)
We have organized our top recommended exercises for hypertension in order of easiest to hardest.
The first exercise we recommend to anyone starting an exercise routine with hypertension is to begin with light stretching.
Stretching keeps your body limber and flexible, helping you avoid injuries. While it might not increase the heart rate much, stretching will increase circulation throughout your body. This is a great starting place to begin moving your body.
Stretching is also useful to avoid the stress of a strained muscle can raise your blood pressure. It’s especially important to stretch before you work out to prevent yourself from being harmed.
If you are not sure of how to begin stretching we will make it very easy for you.
Start in a seated position on a chair.
2. 30 minutes of walking per day in three 10-minute sessions
The goal is to walk at a pace that gets your heart rate up and blood pumping. You don’t want to feel out of breath as you walk, but walking too slowly won’t get the desired results. This is a great way for beginners to start exercising.
You can break it into 10 minute walking sessions and do it 3 times per day. This is a great way to get started exercising with hypertension. You still receive all the benefits of the 30 minutes of exercise with the bonus of not over exerting yourself.
3. Desk Treadmilling or Pedal Pushing
Any job that requires you to sit for multiple hours can take its toll on your health. Desk treadmilling or pedal pushing is an innovative idea for those stuck in the office.
Desk treadmills combined the idea of the standing computer desk with a mini treadmill you can walk on while still working on the computer. This would be a wonderful addition to a home office, but if you’re needing something less noticeable, the pedal pusher would work.
A pedal pusher is just the pedals of a bike that are compact enough to fit under your desk. As simplistic as it is, this is still cardio exercise that helps to lower your blood pressure.
For either of these options, you can use them to get your 30 minutes of activity in.
Yoga is in the same realm as stretching, but it has the bonus of relaxation. By relaxing, your body lets go of its stress, which causes hypertension and other cardiovascular diseases.
Yoga is a wonderful way to increase circulation which reduces blood vessel stiffness so your blood can flow easier.
5. Aerobic Classes
Aerobic, or cardiovascular, exercises are excellent ways to keep up your heart healthy and lower your blood pressure. Cardio gets the blood flowing, hearts beating, and bodies sweating.
Most items on this list are aerobic exercises, but classes like Zumba get you outside and with other people.
Dancing is also another aerobic exercise that you can easily find classes for. Find a class you like and try it. You might find a new hobby on your healthy journey.
Once you learn how to ride a bike, you never forget, and that’s great news for your heart. Cycling is an activity that can be done outside with a real bike, or indoors on a stationary bike. Being part of the aerobic family, biking speeds up your heart and increases your overall fitness.
Riding a bike is an exceptional way to get your blood pumping to increase circulation and overall heart health!
Hiking is a wonderful outdoor activity that gets you fresh air, scenery, and a good workout. The muscles used to complete a hiking trail give the same effects as the other aerobic activities listed. All contribute to your heart health and lower your blood pressure.
The incline you experience during a hike can help you to achieve a greater level of fitness.
Not in an area you can go outside and hike? That is ok! Turn up the incline on the treadmill and you can receive the same increased benefits!
Swimming works nearly all muscles in your body.
A couple of laps around the pool or water aerobics can be a cooldown and work out all in one. Also, the weightlessness you feel while in water makes water workouts ideal for anyone 60 years old and up.
9. Strength or Weight Training
A mix of aerobic activity and strength training is best for controlling high blood pressure, but start slow. Using weights helps build muscles and burn more calories. Both of which contribute to your overall health.
Some people may tend to hold their breath when they are lifting. Don’t do that. Be mindful of your breathing during any workout.
Weight training with smaller weights is still highly effective! Holding 2 pound weights while walking is an exceptional way to add some strength training after you have been doing your walking for an extended period of time.
Weight training has also show increased bone health & strength.
Exercises to avoid with high blood pressure
Taking control of your health is an exciting adventure, but going too hard too fast could be detrimental.
When starting your workout plan, start slow and build your way up to more intense activities.
Anything that increases your heart rate rapidly for a short amount of time, like high-intensity interval training, raises the blood pressure. If you are a beginner or haven’t been working out too long, this can put too much strain on your heart and blood vessels.
Extreme sports, like scuba diving or skydiving, should be marked off the list as well unless you have permission from a healthcare professional.
Not to say that you won’t ever be able to do intense activities, they just aren’t great for people with hypertension. Especially if you haven’t been working out before doing a more aggressive workout.
Listen to your body when exercising
After your workout, make a habit to check your blood pressure readings.
Your blood pressure will rise while you’re doing anything that gets the heart pumping. That’s normal, but there are some signs you should look out for that tell you something isn’t right.
If you experience any of the symptoms below while workout out, stop and give yourself time to rest. Rested and still having trouble? Reach out to your doctor immediately.
Signs you should stop your workout:
Extreme shortness of breath
You should still be able to hold a conversation while you are working out. If at any time you are gasping for air, STOP.
Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
If you feel faint, sit down and allow your heart rate and blood pressure to go back down to normal levels. This is very important if you are on any type of treadmill or stair-stepper because passing out on a machine like this can increase your chances of being injured.
Experiencing pain or discomfort in the chest, jaw, neck, arms, or shoulders
Angina, as defined by the American Heart Association, is chest pain or discomfort caused when your heart isn’t getting enough oxygen-rich blood. This pain can trickle down to different parts of the upper body.
Stop your workout and reach out to your doctor if you experience angina. They might recommend a milder workout regimen or want to make sure there aren’t any other issues outside of high blood pressure.
Also, if this occurs while doing a workout that’s high intensity, try something that’s more of a moderate intensity exercise. For example, rather than sprinting try a quicker jog instead.
How long does it take to lower blood pressure with exercise?
Everyone is different and will choose different ways to get their 30 minutes of physical activity in. Depending on what you do, it could take a few weeks to notice the difference, but for most, it takes about three months.
Exercising immediately lowers your blood pressure, but making it a daily habit is how you achieve consistent results that last.
Exercise can help you to naturally control high blood pressure
Exercise is a free, all-natural way to lower blood pressure. Some people who make healthy lifestyle changes, including exercise, may eventually get off their hypertension medications altogether.
For those who are prehypertensive, exercise can help maintain normal levels. For those already being treated for high blood pressure, physical activity is a drug-free way to keep it down.
There are various benefits to exercise, but the main benefit for those with high blood pressure is a stronger heart. When your heart is healthy and can easily pump blood through your body, which keeps the strain off your blood vessels.
Also, the ability to immediately lower your blood pressure for up to 22 hours can help in moments when your pressure spikes.
Hypertension can become deadly, bringing a host of other diseases and complications. Exercise can reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases and diabetes while increasing your lifespan.
Some of the best activities are free and can be done from the comfort of your home. Walking, biking and yard work are a few of the 12 best exercises that can be added to your daily routine.
How much exercise you need depends on your lifestyle and choices. You don’t have to pump iron for hours a day to benefit from exercise. Thirty minutes a day is all you need, which can be broken up into 10 minutes of activity 3x a day.
Exercise is safe and encouraged when you have high blood pressure, but avoid anything too intense. At least, in the very beginning.
Always reach out to your doctor before starting a new workout routine. Depending on your specific situation, they might have recommendations or guidelines for you to follow.
If any time during your workout you feel lightheaded, dizzy, or have chest pain, stop immediately! It’s a possibility your blood pressure increased too quickly, putting you at risk for complications. Sit down, let your heart rate go back to its normal rate, and then evaluate how you feel.
Even though physical activity offers an immediate reward, to keep your blood pressure levels maintained consistently, make exercising regularly a part of your daily routine.
Your heart and your body will be glad that you did.