Physical exercise can play a key role in helping to combat high blood pressure. The key is to find an activity that worksfor you and stick with it.
Although the risk of high blood pressure (hypertension) increases with age, there are some things you can do to combat it. One of the biggest is exercise. Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort. And the less your heart has to work, the less force, or pressure, that’s exerted on your arteries.
In fact, becoming more active can have as much impact on lowering your blood pressure as some blood pressure medications. For some people, it’s enough to reduce the need for blood pressure medication altogether.
If your blood pressure is at a desirable levelless than 120/80exercise can keep it from rising as you age. And theres more. Regular exercise also helps you maintain a healthy weight, another important way to control blood pressure.
The caveat? You need to keep it up. It takes about one to three months for regular exercise to have a stabilizing effect on blood pressure. The benefits last only as long as you continue to exercise.
While flexibility and strengthening exercises are an important part of an overall fitness plan, it aerobic activity to control high blood pressure. And you don’t need to spend hours in the gym every day to benefit. Simply adding moderate physical activities to your daily routine will help.
Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. If you can’t set aside that much time at once, remember that shorter bursts of activity count, too. Start with shorter sessions of five to ten minutes and build from there.
Examples of moderate activity include brisk walking, cycling, swimming, or doing home repairs or yard work. Choosing more than one type of physical activity will give your body a thorough workout and help prevent boredom. You might want to choose one indoor exercise and one outdoor activity to allow for changes in your schedule or for bad weather.
If your blood pressure is moderately elevated, 30 minutes of brisk walking most days a week may be enough to keep you off medication. Your exercise plan can be as simple as a 15-minute walk around the block each morning and evening. The important thing is to find something you enjoy, and do it safely. And remembertrying too hard at first can lead to injury and cause you to give up. Gradually build up your program and set new goals to stay motivated.
Listen to your body. If you experience unusual symptoms (e.g., have difficulty breathing or experience faintness or prolonged weakness during or after exercise) consult your physician.
The key to making a long-term impact is consistency. Here are some tips to help make regular exercise a habit:
Choose an activity you enjoy that fits your lifestyle. Set realistic goals, and tailor your program to your own fitness level. Give your body a chance to adjust to your new routine. Stay positive even though you may not see immediate results. Don’t give up if you miss a day; just get back on track the next day. Build some rest days into your exercise schedule.
The important thing to remember is move, move, and move! Incorporate as much physical activity as you can into your daily life, through exercise and routine activities. Once this behavior becomes a habit, the amount of conscious effort required on your part is minimal.
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