You probably knew exercise was good for lowering blood pressure–after all, it’s hard to find something that exercise doesn’t impact in a beneficial way!
But did you know how, how much and what types of exercise can give you the biggest bang for your efforts?
Thankfully, almost EVERY kind of exercise is good ammunition in the battle with hypertension. Your first line of defense is to do anything that will have you moving more.
An American Journal of Health Promotions study found that an active lifestyle including short stretches of physical activity, such as taking the stairs, raking leaves or gardening was as effective as structured gym exercises in improving chronic disease outcomes.
Step one: Do more of the physical activities you already do. Another study published in the Journal of Hypertension (2006) found that adults at risk for developing high blood pressure experienced reduced blood pressure readings for three-to-four hours longer when they sampled four 10-minute walking sessions as compared to a single 40-minute session. That is good news for the days when you can’t make time to get to the gym.
If you are diabetic and like a good buy-one-get-one sale, the same outcome is true for blood sugar levels when the walk is taken after eating. Those short bouts of exercise are a gold mine for better health!
For stubborn elevated blood pressure readings that seem resistant, Mayo Clinic research indicates that 30 minutes of higher intensity aerobic exercises like jogging, swimming, dancing, cycling, etc. can lower blood pressure by five to seven points, an amount that is comparable to the effect of some medications. Exercise also is a good way to combat stress –another known factor for elevated blood pressure.
Bottom line? Keep moving, folks!
This article was written by Karan Summitt. Karan is a Community Health Educator and an Employee Health Coach at St. Bernards Medical Center. She holds a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer sciences from Harding University in Searcy and has extensive training and experience in weight loss and healthy lifestyle management, with emphasis on healthcare needs of seniors. She submits a weekly lifestyle column to The Jonesboro Sun titled “The Diet Gal” and also writes a “Successful Aging” column for the magazine NEA Seniors.