Having hypertension (high blood pressure) means that your heart works harder than usual, and this can be potential life-threatening if left untreated because can lead to some serious complications such as stroke, heart attack, coronary heart disease, and other cardiovascular diseases. But the good news, it is controllable condition – even the treatment doesn’t always involve medical intervention. Many times lifestyle approaches (like appropriate diet and regular exercise) often successfully combat high blood pressure problem.
In fact many doctors often recommend using lifestyle approaches as the core of the treatment for hypertension. If you seriously want to use regular exercise ‘a drug-free approach’ for the treatment and prevention for your hypertension, the following are some tips that can help!
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To keep safe, it’s much better to you consult first with your healthcare provider /GP /doctor before beginning the program of your exercise, particularly true if you have certain medical health problems.
Your doctor can analyze whether or not your body is ready for working out. He /she also can give the appropriate advice of more detailed information on how you should exercise such as the type of exercise and duration (how long you should do it per day or most days of the week).
While exercise can help improve your blood pressure, it can cause temporarily raised blood pressure – therefore it should be avoided when you want to check your systolic and diastolic pressure (see also more detailed information on how to get accurate blood pressure readings in here).
But for this case, having raised blood pressure is perfectly normal since your heart needs to pump more blood through arteries during exercise.
Consult to your doctor first before taking any program of exercise if you have some of the following conditions:
- If you are taking a prescription medication regularly, working out may make change the side effects of the medication or may make it work differently. There are some medications that can affect the way of your body’s reaction to working out.
- If you in-doubt that you are in good health.
- If you have a family member (such as your sister, brother, mother, or father) who had personal history of getting heart-related problems earlier (before the age of 55).
- You have certain chronic health problems such as high cholesterol and hypertension.
- You have a personal history of heart attack.
- You often experience chest pain. It can be a sign of a heart attack, particularly in men.
- You become dizzy with exertion.
- Being extremely overweight.
- If you are a smoker.
- The age issue (you are older than 50 ‘if you are a woman’ or older than 40 ‘if you are a man’).
In general, you should take moderate exercise for at least about 150 minutes per week, and combination of moderate and vigorous exercise for at least about 30 minutes per week – according to a recommendation by AHA ‘the American Heart Association’.
And exercise is not only about exercise, to get the most health benefit from it, you need to do it regularly!
For instance, moderate working outs such as brisk walking for about 30 minutes a day can be helpful enough to help improve your blood pressure.
We all agree that there are many health benefits that can we get from working out. And when it comes to combating high blood pressure, working out can help:
- Control your weight. If you are at your best and healthiest weight’s scale, this can significantly help lower your risk of hypertension. More fat that you gain in your body can make your heart work harder in pumping your blood through arteries, this can increase the pressure against the artery walls – as a result, you are relatively easier to experience raised blood pressure than when you have healthy weight. So, it’s important to control your weight. If you are being obese, losing weight can significantly help lower your bad cholesterol and high blood pressure levels.
- Lower your LDL (LDL is considered as bad cholesterol) and boost your HDL (good cholesterol). If you can keep your bad cholesterol off, this can improve the pressure inside your arteries. For more in-depth information on how exercise helps lower cholesterol, visit this section!
- Control your stress. Some studies reported that active individuals are less likely to develop stress than physically inactive individuals. And stress can be risk factor of hypertension. Having more episodes of uncontrolled stress is linked to higher risk of hypertension.
- Improve the entire health of your heart. People with regular exercise are more likely to have stronger heart. Having stronger heart means that you heart will pump blood more effectively or with less effort.
- Stabilize your heart rates.
* Overall, working out can help improve your overall health.
There are many physical activities that can help you move more physically. If you still don’t get any idea on where you should start, here are some helpful tips.
Working out doesn’t always mean you have to go to the gym. You can boost you physical activity level by certain activities that you can do with fun. For instance, if you love gardening – this can be great to get moving more with fun.
Even some household chores such as washing windows and cleaning the floor can help. Other choices include walking at mall, yoga, using stairs instead of escalator or lift, parking your car at the end of the lot, and biking /walking to the office.
All of these activities can give lots of benefits to your heart.
All kinds of physical activities can trigger your heart to pump more blood through your arteries in order to support the activity. Strength training such as weight training can significantly raise your blood pressure, depending on how much pounds of weigh you lift.
Though it is only temporary condition and commonly safe for most people, but sometime it may be dangerous for people with hypertension or certain health conditions. Therefore again to keep safe, consult first with your GP /doctor before taking a weight training!
If you have hypertension and your doctor say ‘yes’ you can try weight training, he /she usually will ask you to follow these following instructions:
- Don’t push yourself too much in lifting weight! Use proper size in order to avoid injury!
- Don’t ever try holding your breath during exertion! Holding the breath when you get exertion can trigger your blood pressure to rise significantly. To reduce the risk of developing dangerous spikes in your systolic and diastolic pressure, breathe naturally and continuously each time you lift the weight.
- It’s much better to try lifting lighter weights ‘but more often’. Lifting too heavy weight can lead to a greater increase in your systolic and diastolic pressure because it needs more strain. The good news, you don’t have to use heavier weights to train your muscles optimally. Just use lighter weights for your weight training is enough to challenge your muscles – but increase the number of repetition!
Listen to any unusual symptom that you experience during and after exercise /weight training.
If you experience chest pain, chest pressure, headaches, excessive fatigue, pain in the jaw or arm, difficulty breathing, or other unusual discomforts – stop the activity right away and then see your doctor if necessary!
And always keep safe! To eliminate the risk of getting injury, start your exercise slowly and increase the intensity & duration gradually.
Always begin it with a warm-up movement to allow the muscles of your body get used with any movement of exercise you will do. And after it, allow your body to cool down. These procedures are very crucial for hypertensive people – according to AHA.
Warming up before working out, and cooling down after working out can help your heartbeats and blood pressure to increase & decrease gradually. If necessary, use a ‘heart rate watch’ during exercise, particularly true when you are taking a medicine that can affect your heart rate. A heart rate watch can tell you the exactly heart rates of your heart before–during-and-after exercise.
Ask your doctor about the safe heart rates zone you need to follow to keep safe!
As mentioned before, we don’t have to belong to a gym to get moving more. But some people find that going to the gym can help them keep focus in maintaining their physical activity level. If you are one of them, there are many gym settings you can choose to help lower your blood pressure.
This idea also allows you to get appropriate steps on how to train your muscles properly and safely. With a professional trainer, you can ask to him on how to use the equipment properly. If necessary, ask your doctor for a recommendation of a gym program that can meet to your body needs.
If you are looking for frugal option, why not try creating a home gym on your own. It’s also nice idea when you don’t have enough time to go to the gym.
How to do it? Simple, you can start it by purchasing and using a step bench, exercise tubes /bands, free weights, and a fit ball. How about with the movements? Don’t worry – there are lots of videos on how to do a home gym that you can download from YouTube or you can purchase in your local store.
Swimming is one of the most recommended cardio exercises when it comes to combating hypertension and lowering the pulse rate.
You can relax your blood vessels (particularly your arteries) and decrease the amount of circulating adrenaline by swimming for about 30 minutes.