What’s the best type of exercise for lowering blood pressure?
“Aerobic exercise – which includes most activities that make you moderately out of breath – can help reduce your blood pressure (BP) by up to 10 per cent. This could be fast walking, jogging, cycling or swimming, but even mowing the lawn, digging the flower beds and dancing count,” explains Daniel.
“There is also plenty of research now to suggest that resistance training, when combined with moderate activity, can help to reduce BP, if done correctly. ‘Dynamic resistance training’ includes activities such as weight lifting and circuit training.”
How can I get the most from working out?
Aim to get your heart rate to around 60 per cent of maximum (maximum heart rate is roughly calculated as 220 beats per minute minus your age).
Take it easy for the first few minutes while your body warms up and for the last few minutes as your cardiovascular and respiratory systems wind down.
The government recommends 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise across the week, made up of 30 minutes to an hour, three to five times a week. Build up gradually and always listen to your body.
“Stop immediately if you feel any pain, excessive breathlessness, nausea or faintness,” warns Daniel. “It may take a few weeks before you notice the full blood pressure lowering effects of regular exercise.”
Other benefits of aerobic physical activity, when combined with resistance exercise, include:
- Increased muscle strength and capability
- Increased muscle mass (especially important during and beyond mid-life, and in older adults)
- Improved metabolic regulation (including handling of blood sugars)
- Improved bone mineral density and reduced risk of osteoporosis.
Are there any types of exercise to avoid?
“Non-aerobic exercise such as heavy weight lifting may in some cases be dangerous for those with very high blood pressure because it can put too much strain on the heart and blood vessels,” explains Daniel.
Activities such as scuba diving or parachuting can also be dangerous if your blood pressure is not being controlled.