High Blood Pressure And Exercise
People often think that high blood pressure and exercise do not mix and that the last thing you want to do if you have high blood pressure is to embark on an exercise program. In reality however the opposite is true and many doctors will go so far as to recommend a specific exercise program for people with hypertension.
The heart is a muscle just like any other muscle in the body and it works best when it is fit. If you do not exercise your heart then it becomes weak and over time requires an increasing effort to pump less and less blood around the body.
By contrast, a fit heart requires less force to pump blood around the body and, in turn, exerts less pressure on your arteries.
But exercise is not only important for your heart when it comes to controlling high blood pressure.
Another very important risk factor for the development of hypertension is weight and once your BMI reaches 30 your risk from high blood pressure begins to increase at an alarming rate.
A regular exercise program combined with a diet program (such as the DASH diet for high blood pressure) will help you to maintain your weight or, if necessary, to shed those extra pounds.
There are of course many different forms of exercise and it is a good idea to set yourself a well balanced exercise program if at all possible. In terms of your blood pressure however the most important form of exercise is aerobic exercise which increases both your heart rate and breathing rate.
Now aerobic exercise can of course mean visiting your local gym and working out on such things a treadmill if you wish to do so, but it certainly doesn't have to mean joining a local gym. Any form of aerobic exercise is fine as long as it takes a reasonable amount of effort and adds up to about half an hour a day of activity. Even a brisk walk counts!
The secret, unless you enjoy the gym (which many people don't), is simply to work some sort of activity into your daily routine and that can often be easier than you think. Here are some ideas:
- If you live above the ground floor in an apartment block, take the stairs rather than using the lift.
- If you pop out in the car each morning to pick up your paper, walk to the news stand instead of getting the car out of the garage.
- If you commute to work by bus or on the subway, get off one or two stops early and walk the rest of the way.
- If you hire a lad to mow your lawn then find him something else to do and mow the lawn yourself.
- If you have a pool nearby consider taking up swimming either on a daily basis or perhaps two or three times a week.
- If you've often thought about taking up golf but have never got around to it then now is a good time to start.
- And so the list goes on…
Adding exercise into your life is extremely important if you are to control your blood pressure but, if you are not used to regular exercise, then don't rush into it too quickly but take your time and build yourself up slowly over the course of several weeks adding a little more exercise each day.
Also, if you have any health concerns then you should discuss these with your doctor. For example, if you are a man over the age of 40 or a woman over the age of 50, you smoke, you are overweight or obese, you have a chronic health condition (including high blood pressure), you have had a heart attack, you have a family history of heart disease or you are simply unsure of your health status, then you should talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program.
Finally, remember that you are concerned about high blood pressure and exercise is simply one part of your strategy to combat it. However, you are not going to know how well you are doing unless you monitor your blood pressure regularly.
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