High blood pressure is a condition suffered by many people and often treated with medication and dietary interventions. Exercise is also highly beneficial in not only the treatment but prevention of high blood pressure.
How Does Exercise Help My Blood Pressure?
While exercising, our blood pressure increases from resting levels to meet the body’s demands for supplying oxygen rich blood around the body.
However, once exercise is ceased our blood pressure actually reduces to below resting levels, an effect which can last up to 24 hours.
Therefore, by exercising everyday, this acute effect exercise has on reducing blood pressure post exercise can become a chronic long term effect.
What Type Of Exercise Is Best To Reduce Blood Pressure?
Moderate intensity aerobic exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling or swimming for 30 minutes five times per week, has been shown to have a positive effect on reducing blood pressure.
Additional health benefits can be gained by performing this type of exercise at more vigorous intensities for 20 minutes two to three days per week.
Resistance training two to three times per week on non-consecutive days has also been shown to have some impact on reducing blood pressure when performed in conjunction with regular aerobic exercise.
What Precautions Should I Take When Exercising If I Have High Blood Pressure?
When performing more vigorous forms of exercise, individuals with high blood pressure should consult an Exercise Physiologist to monitor their blood pressure response prior to, during and after exercise to ensure the safety of their exercise program.
If you have high blood pressure you should not exercise if your resting blood pressure is above 180/110 mmHg and if you are medicated for your blood pressure you should consult your doctor before commencing an exercise program as this may effect the type or dosage of medication you are on.
Finally, when performing resistance training it is important that individuals with high blood pressure place a focus on slow and controlled movements, maintaining normal breathing and avoid breath holding when performing lifting exercises as this can significantly increase blood pressure.
Written by Jack Hickey
Exercise Physiologist at MD Health