While high blood pressure is a serious medical condition that can complicate your health and aggravate other disorders, dealing with it doesn’t always require a ton of effort. Unlike other diseases, high blood pressure has few obvious symptoms until it reaches advanced stages, and by that point, much damage may already be done.
The good news is that you don’t need to sign up for an expensive gym membership and personal trainer to start reducing your blood pressure. Small amounts of gentle exercise can produce results as you start your journey back to better heart health.
There are three general types of exercise, each with its own target result:
When it comes to exercises that benefit your heart, perhaps the most important type is aerobic exercise. This includes any activity that causes your heart rate to go up in a controlled way. Not only does it lower systolic blood pressure -- the upper number in your blood pressure measurement -- it can also lower cholesterol, improve the function of your immune system, and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes.
Strength exercise builds muscle mass, allowing you to burn more calories while keeping your joints and bones strong. Strength training can also get your heart pumping, so it has a positive impact on your blood pressure, too.
Stretching is probably the least likely to provide substantial cardiac benefits, but it can increase your flexibility and mobility while reducing your risk of injury.
If you’re thinking your life is so busy that you don’t have time to fit in the amount of activity you’ll need, here’s more good news: It takes only 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity, five times a week, to improve your cardiovascular capability and reduce your blood pressure.
Better still, if you break that 30 minutes down to three 10-minute segments, you’ll still get benefits equal to a full half-hour.
So, what constitutes suitable aerobic activity?
Well, many of the things you do already count, but to improve your blood pressure score, you’ll need to add extra activity. For instance, household chores frequently count as aerobic activity; however, if you’re already doing them, you can’t count these toward increased activity.
Other modest activities you can add to your routine include:
Lifting weights can increase your blood pressure temporarily, but it has overall benefits that assist in lower blood pressure scores. Check with Eastern Shore Heart Center or your family doctor before starting any strength training to make sure it’s suitable for you. When you get the green light, keep these things in mind:
To receive benefits from weight training, working out all major muscle groups twice a week is enough to contribute to lower blood pressure. Combined with your 30 minutes of aerobic activity daily, you’ve got a powerful one-two punch in the fight against hypertension. Don’t forget your stretches, too, and you’ll be well on your way to improved cardiopulmonary health.