Physical activity can lower your blood pressure by five to 15 points
If your blood pressure is elevated, you should start an exercise regimen. Physical activity is one of the keys to reducing your blood pressure, lowering it by as much as five to 15 points. If you’re taking medication for your blood pressure, working out helps make it more effective. If you’re overweight, losing as few as 10 pounds can help reduce or prevent high blood pressure. This is what you should know before you get started:
Talk to your doctor. Some heart medications, such as beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers, can slow your heart rate. Find out what your target heart rate zone should be during exercise if you take these medications.
Warm up before exercise. Walking in place or on a treadmill for 10 minutes lets your heart rate rise gradually.
Choose activities you enjoy. Since you’ll need to break a sweat for 30 minutes a day at least five days of the week, you’ll be more likely to stick to it if you like what you’re doing. If the gym isn’t your thing, don’t worry. Hiking counts. So do dancing, yoga, yard work and anything else that gets your heart beating faster. Mix it up. Variety keeps you from getting bored.
Make strength training part of your routine. You can use weights, weight machines, exercise bands or your own body weight. You’ll lose body fat, boost muscle mass and raise your metabolic rate. You should incorporate strength training at least twice a week.
Include aerobic exercise. Swimming is a gentle way to incorporate cardio. Biking, jumping rope and skating are other good ones. Shoot for 30 minutes. Vigorous activity, like jogging, gives you the same benefit in 20 minutes, three to four days a week. Work up to that if that’s too much right now. Then, increase up the intensity. Don’t overdo it; you should still be able to exchange brief sentences with someone while you’re exercising. If you get out of breath quickly, or if short sentences feel like a strain, you’re probably working too hard. If you can sing, however, step it up a bit to make sure you’re getting the most out of your exercise.
Cool down. Walk for 10 minutes to help your heart rate return to normal. This is especially important for people with high blood pressure. If you stop exercising too quickly, your blood pressure can drop sharply, which can be dangerous.