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Can you exercise with high blood pressure? Here's what you need to know

September 15, 2023
5 minutes
Lifestyle Health & Wellness
Wellness mythbusting

If you've been diagnosed with hypertension (the medical term for high blood pressure), you might be searching for terms like how can I bring my blood pressure down or does exercise lower blood pressure. Good news: there are several lifestyle changes you can make to get your blood pressure back to healthy levels.

An important note: everyone's health is different, and if you've been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it's vital that you talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. You'll need to take special considerations if you aren't currently physically active. Follow your doctor's recommendations for lifestyle changes, and be sure to check in with them before making adjustments to your workouts or nutrition plan.

Can exercise lower blood pressure?

The good news: yes, physical exercise can absolutely help you to lower your blood pressure, especially when used in combination with other lifestyle modifications.

Many people choose to try exercise, dietary changes, and stress management techniques in an effort to avoid the need for high blood pressure medication. For some, taking these steps can eliminate the need for hypertension drugs.

Working out can lower your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg, according to the Mayo Clinic. It's important that you keep up with exercise once you start, as you'll only experience the positive effects of working out on your blood pressure if you keep up with your routine. Doctors recommend that you shoot for at least half an hour of moderate exercise each day.

You don't have to do a super-high intensity workout to reap the benefits that exercise has on your heart health. If you're searching for answers to questions like does walking lower blood pressure, you're on the right track. Moderate exercise like dancing, walking, and cycling can all help you lower your blood pressure.

Working out with high blood pressure: The benefits

Working out feels great and can help you boost your cardiovascular health for several reasons. While exercise itself can help to lower your blood pressure, it can also affect other systems in the body that can contribute to a boost in heart health as well.

Weight loss is an important part of lowering blood pressure for many people. According to the Mayo Clinic, research shows that blood pressure tends to decrease by about 1 mm Hg for every two pounds lost. In addition to making dietary changes, exercise can help you begin to lose weight.

In addition to losing weight in a general sense, losing fat around the waistline can also help to lower blood pressure levels. Men are at risk for high blood pressure when their waist measurement surpasses 40 inches, while women are at risk when their waist measurement surpasses 35 inches. All-over weight loss can help to lower the size of your waist, making it more likely that your blood pressure will return to healthy levels.

Exercise can also help with stress reduction and getting better sleep--both factors which can contribute to positive heart health. You may find that exercising too close to bedtime can have a negative impact on your sleep. Moving your workouts to the morning can often provide a burst of energy to start your day while also making it easier to fall asleep at night. Taking a few moments to meditate or relax following your workout can maximize the stress-busting benefits of exercise, which can also help to lower your blood pressure levels.

Safety considerations for high blood pressure and physical exercise

After a diagnosis of hypertension, it's normal to pay close attention to your heart. Exercise will make your blood pressure rise temporarily, but it should go back down after you finish your workout. If your blood pressure is especially high, your healthcare provider may recommend that you use medication to control your blood pressure before you begin to exercise.

Working out with high blood pressure: exercise intensity and duration

Moderate-intensity exercise is a great start for people who have been diagnosed with hypertension. If you'd prefer to work out at a higher intensity level, that's fantastic--as long as you check in with your healthcare provider to ensure that you're stepping your workouts up safely. Activities like high intensity interval training and weight lifting may be safe, but you'll need to talk with your doctor before beginning these and similar activities, as they can be strenuous on your body's cardiovascular system.

A good way to judge your exercise intensity level is by your ability to hold a conversation while you're working out. Moderate exercise will make you feel an increase in your body temperature. You should be breathing harder than normal, but not to the point where you wouldn't be able to chat with a friend. Conversation should feel fairly normal, and you shouldn't need to pant to catch your breath between words.

Starting with half an hour of exercise each day can be a sustainable way to get started with improving your heart health. Adding a walk after dinner or during your lunch break can help you begin the habit of adding more movement to your day.

How to prevent high blood pressure with exercise and other lifestyle changes

In addition to exercise, there are many things that you can do to prevent high blood pressure, or to get your blood pressure back to healthy levels if you've been diagnosed with hypertension.

Switching up your nutrition plan is a smart step to help your heart health. Changing your diet to include a wide variety of produce, whole grains, and low-fat dairy can all help you lower your blood pressure. Lowering your salt intake can help as well. Salt is hidden in many foods, especially those that are processed and packaged. Even when cooking at home, lowering the amount of salt you add to food can help. Try seasoning your food with new spices and herbs to add a boost of flavor without increasing sodium levels.

Limiting or eliminating alcohol can also help to lower your blood pressure.If you need help with your drinking, talking to your doctor about resources available to you can be a good place to start.

Taking control of your health: Evidation can help.

When you're living with hypertension, it's important that you keep a close eye on your health progress to ensure that your cardiovascular health is moving in the right direction. Evidation can help. When you download the app, you'll be able to utilize your health data to help you move forward with getting your blood pressure to healthy levels. Knowledge is power--and Evidation can help you get your power back, one day at a time.

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