You can most certainly exercise if you have high blood pressure! In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do to get your blood pressure numbers in control. If you’re just starting out, check with your provider to make sure you are healthy enough to get moving, but chances are, your doctor will fully support your exercise efforts when you have high blood pressure.
Board-certified internal medicine specialist Bharat Gandhi, MD, of Medinet Family Care Clinic, highly recommends exercise when you have high blood pressure. Here’s why.
When you’re carrying excess weight, you’re at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure. As your body size increases, so does your blood pressure.
Exercise, especially when combined with other weight-loss strategies, can help you lower your weight. Losing even 10 pounds can lower high blood pressure and reduce reliance on medications.
Moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity strengthens your heart muscle. Your heart is better able to pump blood into your lungs and other organs. More blood flow improves muscle performance and health, too.
When your heart becomes stronger through exercise, it pumps blood with less effort, and the force on the arteries decreases, resulting in lower blood pressure.
Being stressed can aggravate high blood pressure. When you feel stressed, your body releases hormones, which cause your heart to beat faster and blood vessels to narrow. Improve your reaction to stress and thus its effects on high blood pressure with exercise.
Physical activity may feel hard at first and even be challenging to schedule into your weeks. But, as you become more regular at it, exercise reduces levels of your body’s stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. When you exercise, your body produces more endorphins – natural painkillers and mood elevators.
As you succeed at sticking to an exercise routine, you’ll feel a sense of empowerment and self-confidence, which can also make you feel less stressed about other goals or tasks.
The best exercise is one that you find enjoyable and sustainable. If you have other conditions, like arthritis, talk to Dr. Gandhi about good low-impact options.
In general, though, everyone – including people with high blood pressure – should get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week. This could consist of brisk walking, aerobic dance, tennis, swimming, or bike riding. Aim for about 30 minutes a day, but shorter sessions count as well and add up for your totals for the week.
Think of moderate intensity as a level that makes you feel a little breathy. You could talk, but maybe in just short, three- to five-word sentences. If you can easily carry on a full conversation, you probably aren’t working hard enough.
Spread out your physical activity through the week rather than trying to cram it all in on one weekend day. Also aim to include flexibility and stretching exercises and muscle-strengthening activity for about 20 minutes, two days per week.
If you’re just starting out and these recommendations sound daunting, start with smaller amounts and build up. Any exercise is better than no exercise at all.
If you need help managing high blood pressure, contact Medinet Family Care Clinic today. Call the Houston, Texas office, or use this site to schedule an appointment.