Is it Okay to Exercise if you Have Hypertension?
The Better Life Experts | March 31, 2010

Exercise is widely recognized as an important therapeutic means in the control of hypertension. Regular aerobic exercise reduces both systolic and diastolic blood pressure (upper and lower numbers) by an average of 10 mmHg. Overall, people who have mild to moderate hypertension can train similarly to those who have normal blood pressure with some modifications. They should engage in primarily low-impact aerobics, walk regularly and swim as a means of building cardiovascular endurance. Weight training should begin with low resistance at an initial level of 8-12 reps, increasing gradually to 12-20 reps over time.

Exercise intensity levels should be maintained at the lower end of the heart rate range (40 – 65%) and can be measured accurately and easily with the use of a portable heart-rate monitor. They are readily available on the market for costs ranging between $40-$350. People who are hypertensive should try to exercise at least four times per week with initial short durations, gradually increasing the amount of time they spend on warm-up, cool-down and actual exercise to as much as 30-60 minutes per session. The amount of time spent exercising depends upon the individual’s health history, management of hypertensive medications and other health concerns. It is important that graduated time is spent in warm-up and cool-down, beginning at 5 minutes and increasing to 10-15 minutes per session. Warm-up provides for a measured increase in muscle temperature, which reduces the likelihood of muscle injury; improves coronary blood flow; increases the flexibility of connective tissues as well as many other benefits. Cool-down prevents a rapid drop in blood pressure which generally results in feeling light headed or faint; reduces immediate propensity for muscle cramping or spasm and allows for a gradual reduction of adrenaline in the blood.

If you are hypertensive, check with your physician prior to beginning any exercise program. Also check with your physician if you are increasing or decreasing the intensity or duration of an existing exercise program in which you currently participate. Some medications may require a change in program content and it is important to work closely with your doctor in putting together an exercise plan that works for you and is safe. Sometimes, physicians may ask you to keep a record of blood pressure before and after exercise.

Note: The information provided in this bulletin should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.
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