The connection between hypertension and activity
As you exercise, your heart works harder pumping blood to your muscles. This can cause a temporary increase in systolic blood pressure followed by a reduction that takes place during the recovery stage. Research has shown a 10-20 mm Hg reduction in blood pressure during the initial 1-3 hours following exercise. In some cases this benefit lasts up to 9 hours. It is the reduction of blood pressure occurring during recovery that delivers lasting health benefits. Participating in a regular, structured exercise program can cause blood pressure to decrease by 5-7 mm Hg and this can occur as early as 3-4 weeks after introducing a new exercise routine.
Best Forms of Exercise for Blood Pressure Control
Although flexibility and strength training exercises are important components of your overall fitness program, it is aerobic and endurance training (cardio) that provide the greatest benefit for reducing blood pressure. Exercises involving heavy resistance and strain, such as snow shovelling or heavy lifting are not recommended as they can dramatically increase your blood pressure. If these activities are unavoidable, focus on your breathing (breath out on the exertion) and if possible ask for assistance.
A Copeman Healthcare kinesiologist can help you establish an individualized exercise program or provide advice for gradual progression towards your goals. Choose an activity you enjoy or try something new to avoid boredom. Good choices are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or other moderate intensity exercises. Experts encourage 30-60 minutes of continuous or accumulated daily physical activity. Warm up for 5-10 minutes, begin slowly, and gradually increase your intensity to light or moderate. You should be able to carry on a conversation, stringing 4-5 words together without gasping for air. Do not forget to include a 5-10 minute cool down to help keep your workouts enjoyable and to allow your body to return to rest.