What is the Best Exercise to Lower Blood Pressure?
Written by Eli Ben-YehudaOn January 14, 2020
You would be surprised by the answer. But before answering that question there are a few things that you need to do before starting an exercise program.
First of all, you need to check with your physician before starting any kind of physical regimen. Although he or she will be thrilled at the thought it is always prudent to know you are ready. Since an active lifestyle is good for your heart, I am sure your physician will be pleased.
Second, you need to ask yourself two questions.
- What sounds like fun to you? Why do you ask? Because by finding an exercise that you can stick to will ensure your success.
- Would I rather exercise by myself or in a group? Neither answer is correct, it really depends on your personality but some exercises are fun to do with with a group.
So what types of exercises are there?
Basically, exercise can be broken down into 4 groups.
- Cardiovascular Or Aerobic Exercise: This type of exercise program helps lower your blood pressure by strengthening your heart.
- Strength Training:Builds strong muscles that help burn more calories throughout the day. It also helps strengthen bones and joints.
- Stretching:Stretching will help increase flexibility which is something we lose as we get older. By stretching we increase our mobility which helps us keep moving. The less sedentary we are the better it is for our heart and blood pressure.
- Isometric Exercises:Isometric exercises, the kind where you contract large muscles without actually moving the body part, may help reduce blood pressure in healthy people.
Any physical activity that increases your heart and breathing rates is considered aerobic activity, including:
- Household chores, such as mowing the lawn, raking leaves, gardening or scrubbing the floor
- Active sports, such as basketball or tennis
- Climbing stairs
According to “The Department of Health and Human Services” it is recommended that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week, or a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.
If you can’t set aside that much time at once, remember that shorter bursts of activity count, too. You can break up your workout into three 10-minute sessions of aerobic exercise and get the same benefit as one 30-minute session.
Here’s a short video from CNN that summarizes aerobic exercise to lower blood pressure:
The most common strength exercise is weightlifting. Lifting weights is a popular exercise for those looking to increase muscle mass, but it can also help to improve bone density and, when done correctly, strengthen tissue around the joints.
However, what effect does weightlifting have on hypertension?
Since this type of exercise can actually temporarily increase blood pressure (sometimes a sharp spike), it certainly isn’t suitable for those with uncontrolled levels, which would be 180/110 or higher.
Those with a blood pressure of 140/90 or above should also discuss weight training with their doctor beforehand, as it may be necessary to employ certain precautions.
These may include:
- Breathing smoothly and consistently when lifting, and not holding your breath
- Taking care to use correct form
- Opting to use lighter weights and perform more repetitions, as opposed to using heavier weights and performing fewer repetitions
- Allowing your body to sufficiently rest between sets, and switching between leg and upper body exercises
- If undertaken correctly and consistently, weight training can have a beneficial effect on blood pressure over time, and reduce the risk of hypertension developing; however, it is important to keep the correct practice in mind, particularly if you know your blood pressure is high.
Here’s a short and light video about weight lifting and resistance training:
You can stretch in many ways, but some are better than other. Yoga, for example is a great structured way to do stretching. There are also stretching exercises which can be easily done at home by your self. You don’t need any equipment and it can take only 10 minutes
Here is a great video to get you started:
Isometric exercises, the kind where you contract large muscles without actually moving the body part, may help reduce blood pressure in healthy people. And something as simple as squeezing your inner thigh muscles together while you sit would qualify.
Isometric exercises can be done anytime, anywhere, and they don’t require you to bend or lift. In a handful of studies, folks with normal blood pressure who did three 15 to 20 minutes sessions of isometric exercises every week for 10 weeks experienced more than a 10-point plunge in their systolic blood pressure.
Read more about isometric exercises – here.
How Much Exercise Is Enough?
Aerobic activity can be an effective way to control high blood pressure. But flexibility and strengthening exercises such as lifting weights are also important parts of an overall fitness plan.
You don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day to benefit from aerobic activity. By adding moderate physical activities to your daily routine will also help.
Here is a short video discussing exercise types and frequency:
What If I Am Unable To Do Any Of These?
The American Heart Association’s review of studies discovered evidence to suggest that isometric exercises in particular, such as squeezing handgrips or rubber balls, had a significant effect on reducing blood pressure.
Finally, while cardiovascular training has been recognized as the more beneficial activity type for high blood pressure, it’s important to consider your own expectations before embarking on an exercise program:
- Talk to your doctor first.
- Ease yourself in. Make sure you warm up before and warm down after a session.
- Don’t exercise ‘in bulk’. Try to spread your exercise out across the week into manageable sessions.
- Give your body enough time to rest. Take at least two days off a week.
So what is the best exercise to lower blood pressure? The answer is, any exercise that you can do will help you reduce your blood pressure. Whether it is walking, or rowing, the idea is to keep moving and get your heart pumping. Exercise helps un-stiffen those blood vessels and helps them to dilate and relax. When your blood vessels are supple and relaxed your blood pressure comes down. Exercise is not only great for the body, but research has proven that exercise also improves our mental outlook.
Sources used for this article on exercise to lower blood pressure:
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