The benefits of exercising go a long way when it comes to heart health. Exercise helps in weight loss, which is associated with controlled blood pressure. Exercising also improves insulin sensitivity in hypertensive people, thereby resulting in improved circulation. As per the guidelines on hypertension management released by the Joint Health Committee, a regular exercise program can lead to 4-6 mmHg reduction in blood pressure in hypertensive people. However, exercising is only a tool that can help you control your blood pressure. If you stop exercising, you also lose its benefits. Therefore, the key is to be consistent and self-motivated. You could begin with simpler physical activities and then add variations to keep yourself driven.
Here are 6 exercises that you can try to begin with:
1. Brisk walking:
Walking is the simplest form of exercise that you can start with if you are diagnosed with hypertension. It is also one of the most recommended exercises to control blood pressure levels, especially among people between 50-60 years of age. Brisk walking is a moderate-intensity aerobic exercise that involves the use of larger muscle groups and consumes enough energy to also trigger weight loss. A 30-minute daily dose of brisk walking is optimum for controlling BP levels. Once you have developed a certain degree of stamina, you could add jogging to your routine a couple of times in a week.
Another exercise that involves large muscle groups and burns a fair amount of calories is swimming. Besides, swimming is good for relaxing and de-stressing, if you have hypertension. It especially works wonders among older adults who complain of knee joint pain during other exercises like walking or jogging. Not only does it improve the functioning of the blood vessels, but it also keeps the body cool, which may fluctuate while exercising.
3. Daily activities like household chores:
If you are one of those who find it difficult to make time for enrolling yourself in a fitness program, then you could start by identifying aerobic activities within your daily schedule and turning them into your exercise routine. You could take the stairs to reach your office or your home instead of taking the elevator. Climbing stairs increases cardiac output and improves the flow of blood through the blood vessels. Apart from that, some household chores like cleaning and gardening also contribute to physical activity that can help you in managing hypertension.
4. Dance fitness:
If you love dancing, and if music is your motivation to exercise, then you must try the new age dance fitness programs that are gaining popularity. Zumba, a dance exercise program, has shown remarkable benefits in people with hypertension in a wide age group (ranging from 25 to 55-year-olds). The program involves moderate to high-intensity aerobic activity and aims at improving cardiovascular endurance, imparting strength and overall fitness.
5. Resistance training:
It is a misconception that people with hypertension should avoid resistance or strength training programs as a form of exercise. Though any exercise tends to increase your heart rate and blood pressure while doing the exercise, in the long run, it helps with improving heart health and blood pressure. Studies have shown a reduction in blood pressure by 4-5 mm Hg in people with hypertension. So, with appropriate guidance, it would be highly beneficial to engage in training programs like Pilates or High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to lower your blood pressure.
Some studies have shown that the practice of yoga has been found to bring about a reduction in high blood pressure.. The flow of yoga postures with breathing exercises aims at improving flexibility, balance and strength. Certain postures in yoga are meant to improve blood circulation and breathing. The practice of yoga and meditation has also shown significant effects on the reduction of stress levels, which is considered one of the major contributing factors that can worsen hypertension.
- By Raymond R. Townsend. 100 Questions & Answers about High Blood Pressure (Hypertension)
- By Jon G. Divine, American College of Sports Medicine. Action Plan for High Blood Pressure
- S.Jitesh et al /J. Pharm. Sci. & Res. Vol. 8(6), 2016, 501-50. Effect Of Zumba Dance On Blood Pressure
- Pescatello, Linda S et al. “Exercise for Hypertension: A Prescription Update Integrating Existing Recommendations with Emerging Research.” Current hypertension reports vol. 17,11 (2015): 87. doi:10.1007/s11906-015-0600-y
- Hagins, M., Selfe, T. and Innes, K., 2013. Effectiveness of yoga for hypertension: systematic review and meta-analysis. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2013.