We all know that exercise is important to our health and even more so for us millions of people with high blood pressure. We also know that many of us hate exercising, don’t have time for it or simply are not sure where to begin and how. The rest of us are probably super athletic, run an hour a day after work, swim twice a week, spin at their local gym, practice yoga religiously or attend Zumba classes a few times a week. For those people struggling to get off the sofa – and there are many of us – we put together this post listing 12 tips on how to “Get Active” and reduce your blood pressure.
Recent studies have shown that all you need is moderate exercises to lower your blood pressure. In case you were concerned that you needed to run or bike 10 miles to see positive results, you don’t. All you need is 30 minutes of Get Active time about 3 – 4 times a week, and you will start to see a difference. So, what are you waiting for?
Before we share our tips we would like for you to remember that living an active lifestyle is the cornerstone of therapy for the prevention, treatment and control of high blood pressure and you do not necessarily have to sweat to get in the proper dosage. Doctor Linda Pescatello explains that, “Moderate-intensity exercise has been scientifically documented to effectively lower blood pressure in people, perhaps more so than vigorous-intensity exercise”. The most important thing is to just Get Active and to not live a sedentary lifestyle. Sitting all day is simply the enemy of high blood pressure.
Lets get started:
1) Start with a simple and easy activity that you enjoy.
We have discovered through the years that many people in our community get ambitious and quickly jump into a very intense exercise regiment that ends up wiping them out. Start with low to moderate intensity exercises that you feel comfortable with. Instead of signing up for 6 months of spinning, start walking 30 minutes a day. Walk around your neighborhood, at the gym on a treadmill, in the park either in the morning, during your lunch break from work or in the evening. Walk at a pace that you are comfortable with and slowly as you feel stringer you can increase the intensity, add weights or other exercise tools to your workout.
2) You do not need the gym or a sunny day to get active.
Recently one of our community members, Michelle, told us about her dilemma with finding where to exercise after moving to her new home. Michelle’s new hometown did not have a gym. For years Michelle would attend various exercises classes at the gym near her old home and now she needed to figure out how she was going to get in her daily dose of exercise. She discovered that there was a beautiful park near her new home with many trails. She started to take 30 minute walks in the park and used the benches for strength exercises: push ups, leg ups, and stomach exercises. If you do not have a gym membership, don’t worry you can still exercise the same way Michelle did.
When the weather got bad, Michelle exercised at home and used her furniture and stairs for support and resistance. In the mornings she would climb up and down her stairs for 10 minutes and with time – as she got stronger – she would increase her speed. She also would skip a stair as she climbed up to strengthen her thighs. It is very easy to exercise at home especially strength exercises. When it comes to aerobic exercise it is a bit challenging, but you can do jumping jacks. By the way, cleaning the house has proven to be great exercise. Did you ever notice how tiered you get when you clean your home? Well, washing floors and windows, vacuuming, lifting furniture, mowing the lawn and gardening keep us active and strong. So, if you are thinking of hiring a housekeeper this week, think again and try to do it yourself. Cleaning is great exercise.
4) All you need is 30 minutes and 10 minute time intervals work too.
Studies have shown that to get the blood pressure lowering benefits you do not have to workout intensely for 60 minutes. Actually, all you need is 30 minutes about 4 times a week and you can break up the time into 2 – 3 intervals of either 15 or 10 minutes. Go for a 10 or 15 minute walk in the morning, another 10 – 15 walk during lunch time, and again in the evening. The idea is to get active and stay active most of the day.
5) Choose “Get Active” options over convenience.
We are always thinking about how we can make our lives convenient and simple, but sometimes convenience can hinder our success, especially when it comes to our health. Simply by thinking about how you can squeeze in an extra minute or two of exercise into your busy schedule, can make a difference in your blood pressure. Try parking your car far from your office, home or wherever you may be driving to and walk a little. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or walk up the escalator. Carry your groceries from the supermarket instead of having the packages delivered.
6) Buddy up with a friend
Exercising with a friend can easily motivate you to get active. Choose a partner you enjoy spending time with and you can rely on to motivate you. Ask a friend, neighbor or family member to commit to meeting 3 – 4 times a week for a blood pressure lowering walk with you. You will be surprised at what a difference it makes when you share the experience with someone.
7) Never leave home without your favorite tunes, and try classical music.
Studies have shown that music, especially your favorite tunes, lowers blood pressure. Just by listening to at least 30 minutes of your favorite music daily relaxes the body, including your blood vessels, resulting in lower blood pressure and reduced stress levels. If you want to achieve your best blood pressure results, then listen to classical music especially when exercising. Music causes people to exercise harder and somewhat longer than without music. If you are new to classical music, get started with Beethoven’s Symphony No 4, fourth movement.
8) Include isometric hand grip exercises into your daily 30 minute routine.
A recent study published by the American Heart Association demonstrated that isometric handgrip exercises can considerably lower high blood pressure. It is very simple to combine handgrip exercises when walking or while you are at home. All you need is either handgrips from a local sports store or a hand ball. Just 10 – 12 minutes a day about 4 times a week can make a difference in about 4 weeks.
9) Purchase a few budget-friendly exercise tools.
There are many exercise tools that you can buy and use at home, when traveling, outside or wherever you choose. For example, one such tool that we love are resistance bands, which are used for strength training. Strength training is just as important as aerobic exercise for lowering your blood pressure. Exercise bands are useful for beginners and advanced exercisers alike. They come in different resistance levels, which are usually represented by different colors, so you can choose what you need depending on your ability and what type of moves you’re doing.
Another great budget-friendly exercise tool is a balance ball. While it is not as easy to take wherever you go like resistance bands are, they are great for exercising at home. Exercise balls can be used alone to strengthen your stomach, stretching, or to use in conjunction with hand weights or resistance bands as a balance-challenging weight bench. By using the balance ball you will be able to engage all the muscles in your core to keep yourself supported.
Two-pound hand weights are another great exercise tool to purchase for your home. You can combine the hand weights with balance ball exercises or alternate with hand grip exercises while walking.
No matter how long you exercise routine is, stretching is a must before and after your workout. Stretching improves flexibility, reduces the risk of injury and improves your health. Stretching will improve your overall performance throughout the day by increasing the range of motion of your joints. More importantly, it increases circulation and blood flow to your muscles, which can help lower blood pressure.
11) Speak with your health care provider about the type of exercise you want to do.
It’s important to discuss your exercise regiment with your doctor and learn about various exercises that may be helpful. More importantly, not all exercises are good for everyone even if you enjoy them. It is important to share with your doctor the type of exercises you are doing or want to do. There is a regiment for everyone.
12) Have fun & keep us posted.