Hypertension is rising in the world and is a risk factor for cardiovascular disorders. It causes substantial morbidity and mortality. Regular exercise for 150 minutes per week can help you regulate your blood pressure(BP). Consistency is the key. The effects of exercise on hypertension persists as long as you continue doing the exercises. Exercises can be- aerobic exercise, strength or resistance training, and flexibility exercises. Combining these three forms of exercise in your workout regime will help with the most beneficial effects on hypertension and overall health and fitness. The higher is the baseline BP value in the hypertensive population, more is the reduction in the resting systolic blood pressure. It takes time for BP to return to normal after exercise, but with regular exercise, the resting blood pressure levels are reduced in people with hypertension. Besides this, the risk of developing hypertension is reduced in the prehypertensive and normal populations.
- Aerobic Exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, and running for 30 minutes per day are good to start. If you are just starting, you can also do it in three intervals of 10 minutes or two of 15 minutes each, depending on your comfort level. The acute effect of aerobic exercise on BP reduction persists for 24 hours after exercise, which is known as post-exercise hypotension. Therefore, it is good to do aerobic exercise daily.
- Strength training with lighter weights or resistance bands and more repetitions is a way to get beneficial effects. One can include exercises involving major muscle groups like Biceps curls, Triceps extensions, Lateral pull-downs, Abdominal crunches, Leg curls, Leg press, and Back extensions. 8-10 reps of each exercise can be done in 2-3 sets. It can be done 2-3 times/week. Resistance exercises should be done ina slow, controlled manner with moderate speed, through the complete range of motion, and without holding your breath.
- Flexibility Exercises-These exercises should be done 3-4 times/week. They help you with injury prevention and better performance of aerobic and resistance exercises.
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), on average, regular aerobic exercise lowers resting systolic BP by 5-7 mm of Hg, while strength training or resistance exercise lowers resting systolic BP 2-3 by mm of Hg among individuals with hypertension.
Tips For Exercising Safely–
- Check with your doctor before starting an exercise program to screen for diabetes or other cardiovascular risk factors. It is better to get evaluated especially if you have a family history of heart-related problems.
- Do not exercise if your BP is more than 180/100.
- Progress slowly. Avoid a substantial increase in the intensity of exercise in a short time.
- Monitor your BP before, during, and after the exercise session.
- Include warm-up and cooldowns in your exercise regimen. Cooldown is crucial as it helps in returning BP to normal gradually rather than abruptly, which can be dangerous.
- Do not lift heavy-weights. Lift lighter weights with which you complete 8-10 reps without getting fatigued.
- Avoid any exercise in which the head level is below the hips.
- Stop exercising, if you feel fatigued, lightheaded, dizzy, or feeling pain in the chest, arm, neck, or jaw.
Exercise is a powerful tool to reduce and regulate your blood pressure. So everyone should be encouraged to exercise safely and to keep BP at healthy levels.
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