If you are a high blood pressure (BP) patient, you may have already spent a quarter of your life taking medication to keep it under control.
A life-long prescription and there’s no way out! The maximum you could expect is having a reduced dosage over a point of time, but that is all to it.
Thankfully, a recent research report by the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds a way you can deal away with BP in a simple yet profound way. Exercise!
Researchers assessed the joint impact of exercise and medication on lowering blood pressure and found that for people with high blood pressure, cardiovascular and strength training worked just as well with blood pressure pills.
In the research led by London School of Economics Assistant Professor Huseyin Naci, the researcher notes that his team included data from 10,461 such exercises.
Despite definite results, Naci does not suggest stopping BP pills completely. “People who have been prescribed drugs for their blood pressure may want to discuss potential benefits of exercise interventions with their doctors,” he said.
However, the research contradicts a popular misconception that those with high blood pressure should avoid activity, which increases hearts pumping.
“Your blood pressure increases during exercise, which makes people think exercise might be a bad idea if you already have high blood pressure. However, after a bout of exercise, your blood pressure decreases and could drop below your baseline and that effect could last for several hours,” says Lynne Braun Rush University Professor and American College of Cardiology member.
Regular exercise helps decrease resistance in the arteries making blood flow easy and causes a subsequent drop in blood pressure.
“The impact of exercise is greater for people with a diagnosis of hypertension. If your blood pressure is elevated to start with, you can expect greater decreases,” Braun explains further.
While all forms of exercise are beneficial, studies suggest that cardiovascular exercise has a slightly better impact than strength training. But of course, both of them should be practiced with BP medication. Exercise is also beneficial in lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease.
According to the findings of the Current Hypertension Reports journal, exercising as little as one day per week is equally effective as pharmacotherapy for reduction deaths caused by High BP among patients.
Exercise could also help reduce the number of blood pressure medications you take. As per a 2018 study published in the Journal of Hypertension, BP patients engaging in 40-minute exercise sessions (three times per week for three months) and relying on multiple BP medications displayed decreased systolic and diastolic readings.
“Every bout of exercise is like a dose of medication. With regular physical activity, you might be able to reduce the number of medications or decrease the dosages or go off of medication altogether — and if you don’t have high blood pressure, a regular exercise program can help protect against a diagnosis down the road,” says Braun.
Fun Exercises for High BP Patients
Besides some cardiovascular and strength training exercises, you can try the below Aerobic activities:
- Active Sports (basketball, shuttle, tennis)
- Climbing stairs
- Regular household chores (mowing, raking leaves and gardening)
(Please note: Any physical activity increasing heart and breathing rates is considered aerobic activity)
According to the Department of Health and Human Services, it is important to practice at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of high-intensity aerobic activity a week. You can also consider a combination of both the levels of activity.
Some Moderations for High BP Exercise Practitioners
As much as weight training can cause a temporary increase in blood pressure, it can also produce lasting benefits to blood pressure that beat the temporary risks of a temporary spike.
Following are some points to remember for BP patients interested in weight training:
- Proper Form: It is essential that you learn and understand the proper form and technique when weight training as it reduces chances of injury
- Don’t hold breath: Holding your breath during exercise can cause increased blood pressure. Breathe easily and continuously during each exercise
- Lift lighter weights more times: Heavier weights call for increased blood pressure. Instead user lighter weights but increase the number of repetitions
- Listen to the Alarm: Your body will give you signals when you’re exceeding your limit of exercise. In case you feel dizzy, chest pain or experience pressure, stop your exercise right away
Consult Your Doctor
As discussed earlier, it is better to discuss your desire for exercise in countering high BP. Here is a checklist to consider if you need to consult a doctor for exercise:
- If you are a 45 year old man or 55 year old woman
- You practice smoking or quit smoking over the last few months
- You are overweight
- You have other critical health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular or lung disease
- You have a history of heart attack
- You have a hereditary problem of heart-related problems before 55 years in men and 65 in women
- You feel pain or uneasiness in arms, chest, jaw and neck while exercising
- You are not healthy and you have not exercised in a long time
- Lastly, will your new exercise regimen effect the medication you take regularly
While you exercise your way to moderate or reduced blood pressure, it is essential to keep a tab on your blood pressure readings and heart rate. An integrated fitness tracking application will be extremely beneficial to keep you updated on progress in the above areas. Stay motivated for a healthy living!