Our blood pressure is responsible for delivering oxygen and nutrients to our tissues and organs by letting blood flow around our circulatory system. However, it’s vital that it remains in its normal reading, or else, health consequences may occur.
Particularly, high blood pressure has caused a number of heart attack and stroke cases in the U.S., with an estimate of 103 million adult patients, and the numbers continue to increase along with the ageing population and the increasing life expectancy in the country.
While there are many ways to lower one’s blood pressure or to keep it at normal levels, exercise plays an important role. Naturally, regular physical activity strengthens the heart, helping it to pump more blood without exerting too much effort, eventually leading to significantly lower blood pressure.
You are not expected to start signing up for marathons when we say exercise. There are many easy ways that you can begin within your journey to maintaining normal blood pressure:
1. Start small by walking.
One of the best exercises for individuals with hypertension is walking. It’s probably one of the easiest to achieve, too. Ideally, people with health conditions such as high blood pressure and heart disease should exercise for at least 2 and a half hours per week.
Walking for at least 30 minutes a day and never skipping for more than two days should be enough to affect one’s blood pressure for the better.
2. Go for a swim.
Swimming is a great low-impact cardio exercise that can benefit people with hypertension, especially among senior patients. In fact, a study posted in The American Journal of Cardiology has proven that swimming can reduce systolic blood pressure by nine points on average among 60-year-old patients who went for a swim three or four times a week over 12 weeks.
Normally, a healthy individual’s blood pressure should be less than 120 mmHg of systolic pressure and less than 80 mmHg of diastolic pressure. Higher levels should suggest an elevated blood pressure, a high blood pressure, or a fatal hypertensive crisis.
3. Ride a bike.
If you are looking for an effective exercise that you can still enjoy, biking sounds like a great idea. A morning bike ride for about 30 to 35 minutes can already get your heart pumping and give your cardiovascular health a boost.
Cycling also helps burn calories and increase muscle and bone strength without exerting too much pressure on the joints, making it also a great exercise for elderly people who suffer from arthritic joints. It’s a plus that it allows you to go outdoors and take a breath of fresh air.
4. Lift weights.
Weight training can be a tricky exercise for hypertensive patients, as it temporarily increases one’s blood pressure during the activity. However, weightlifting can have long-term benefits to an individual’s blood pressure levels, mainly reducing one’s overall cardiovascular risk.
Should you decide to include weight training in your regular exercise routine, it’s important to learn the proper form before performing the activity to reduce the risk of injury. Proper breathing is also one thing to consider, as holding one’s breath during exertion may spike blood pressure levels. Lifting lighter weights instead of heavier weights is also more advisable for people with hypertension, as the latter requires more strain and therefore greatly increases one’s blood pressure.
A study also found that people who stretch their muscles regularly have lower blood pressure than those who don’t. It works by stretching all the muscles in our body, including those that feed into circulation and provide fuel for them with oxygen-rich air from inside us.
Stretching is important to maintain the flexibility of our joints, which in turn keeps us healthy and injury-free. Without stretching, we are likely to have aches or pains from tight muscles that won’t be able to extend fully when needed for movement.
Stretching makes day-to-day life easier. Not only will you be able to move easily, but your flexibility can also make everyday tasks like tying shoes or carrying bags of groceries more effective for you!
If you are interested, start with this beginner stretching video.
The most important tip to consider during exercise is to listen to your body. Overexertion can strain your heart and wind you up with an electrocardiogram through EKG lead wires. Stop any exercise right away if it makes you severely out of breath or lightheaded, or if any chest discomfort is present.
Better yet, check with your doctor before jumping into any exercise program as he or she knows best what’s best for you to consider.