Oftentimes we are concerned with the feasibility of exercising when suffering from an ailment. For patients of high blood pressure (hypertension) this is of even greater concern, with questions surrounding their body’s ability to endure the rigors of this increased activity and the wisdom of subjecting it to this additional pressure. This need not be of concern. In fact if you’re suffering from high blood pressure, moderate to medium exercise can be one of the most effective ways of controlling it. Consider that the heart is a muscle and similar to all other muscles, it maintains or increases strength with regular activity and loses its elasticity with inactivity and age. Exercise not only improves your cardiovascular system but can help in lowering your cholesterol and maintaining a healthy body weight, both of which are contributors to hypertension. |
Although it is unclear as to exactly how exercise contributes to a lowering of high blood pressure, one of the prevailing theories is that exercise (aerobic) reduces insulin and insulin resistance, two of the factors associated with the development of hypertension. It’s also undeniable that regular physical activity strengthens the heart, the stronger the heart the lower the amount of effort needed to pump blood thus decreasing the strain on your arteries and lowering your blood pressure. Research has continuously shown that cardiovascular diseases are more prevalent among those individuals who are least fit, with hypertension being 30% to 50% more likely to occur. Exercise programs are slotted into two distinct categories: Aerobic and Anaerobic. Aerobic exercise strengthens and enlarges the heart muscle along with the muscles of the respiratory system. The end result being that your cardiovascular system is strengthened, while your stamina and overall strength is increased. The decrease in your heart rate will, by extension lead to a decrease in your blood pressure over time. Anaerobic exercise on the other hand is useful in building: strength, muscle mass and speed, while also increasing the metabolic rate and is deemed to be more beneficial to athletes. All physical activity which increases your heart and breathing rate can be considered aerobic, including such everyday activities as: bicycling, walking, dancing, climbing the stairs, mowing the lawn, raking leaves etc. More formal and structured forms of exercise include: basketball, volleyball, softball, tennis and racquetball among others. These types of activities are suggested for persons who would be more comfortable in participating in team activities or who may benefit from the support and encouragement of others. Yoga, Tai Chi chuan or any other form of martial arts could also be beneficial. For the patients of high blood pressure (hypertension) it’s important to remember that the aim is to participate in moderate forms of exercise. Moderate implies that you must exert yourself a little without getting too out of breath.
Your choice of exercise should be one which you like to do and can be incorporated into your daily routine without too much difficulty. Doing so would insure its longevity. Varying your exercise regimen will also help in breaking the monotony and encourage you to continue. An adequate exercise regimen should consist of at least thirty (30) minutes of exercise three to five times a week, at least every other day. An alternative method as suggested by the Surgeon General is that “all adults should accumulate 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity on most, if not all days of the week. The key words are "accumulate" and "moderate-intensity." Accumulate means that you can do 10-15 minutes at a time and repeat that a couple of times throughout the day; for example, 10 minutes in the morning, 10 minutes at lunch, and 10 minutes around dinner. Moderate intensity is equivalent to feeling "warm and slightly out of breath" when you do it.”
The natural aging process increases the chances of getting high blood pressure but participating in some form of exercise can reduce this risk. A single workout may reduce your blood pressure for the whole day and exercising regularly, consistently keeps the pressure down. It’s a personal choice as to what type of exercise one should follow but whatever type you choose you should first consult your doctor and get his/her recommendations, particularly if you are taking medication for high blood pressure. Self monitoring (heart rate monitor) during exercise is also advised. If there’s discomfort in the chest, jaw or arm or you experience dizziness or severe shortage of breath, stop all exercises immediately and notify your doctor, if these symptoms persist call 911.
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