High blood pressure is also called hypertension. Because the symptoms may not show up for years, hypertension earned the name the "silent killer. High blood pressure is defined as the pressure of blood against the walls of the blood vessels and arteries. When the heart contracts it pushes blood through your arteries with varying force. There is a difference between high blood pressure (hypertension) and elevated blood pressure caused by working out, stress and tension. When you do different activities your blood pressure may go up, but it returns to normal. If you have hypertension your blood pressure is always above normal.
The prevalence of high blood pressure increases with age and is often related to lifestyle habits. If you're overweight and inactive and you smoke, your risk increases. Persistently elevated blood pressure can lead to so many health hazards — an enlarged heart, stroke and kidney damage among them — bringing the pressure down is crucial.
- Limit salt intake
- Reduce stress
- Increase potassium
- Increase calcium
- Life style changes
- Lose weight by exercising under doctor’s orders
- Don't smoke
- Be active
- Limit sodium
- Eat more fruit, whole grains, vegetables
- Limit alcohol
When you exercise regularly, your entire cardiovascular system benefits. This is because exercise:
- Prevents the onset of high blood pressure if you're at increased risk of developing it
- Lowers your blood pressure if you already have high blood pressure.
Managing your high blood pressure involves making healthier food and exercise choices, and possibly some decisions about medications.
- Start exercising at your own pace
- It is possible to see results with every bit of exercise that you do, if you do it regularly. You can begin exercising at a pace that's comfortable for you. Getting exercise at least three times a week is a good way to help manage your high blood pressure.
- The benefits of regular exercise, in addition to lower blood pressure, include reduced stress, weight loss, increased stamina, and an improved cardiovascular system. Chances are also good that you'll feel more energetic.
- Consider your needs and interests
- Your health care professional will work with you and make suggestions about how you can incorporate exercise into your life. After giving you a thorough physical examination and talking with you about your interests, he or she will help you determine which activities are best for your level of fitness.
- If you have other medical conditions, such as diabetes or heart disease, in addition to high blood pressure, your health care professional will consider this information when recommending particular kinds of exercise for you. It is also important for him or her to know what types of medication you are taking.
- Exercise in ways you'll enjoy
- You can make exercising easier by finding your own ways to include it in your life. In fact, many of your daily activities probably qualify as exercise-you may just need to do them more often.
- One way to lower your blood pressure is to take a brisk walk for 30 to 45 minutes several times a week. Walking is a good example of an activity that you can work into your daily routine. For example, you can take your dog for longer walks, park your car farther from the grocery store, or even get off the bus a few blocks before your stop. If you find ways to exercise that suit your needs and interests, you'll be likely to work out more often and to enjoy the benefits of keeping in shape.
- How do I get started?
- Which type of exercise is right for you? Exercise can be divided into three basic types: stretching, cardiovascular (or aerobic), and strengthening. Each type of activity meets different needs and treatment goals. Be sure to discuss your plan with your health care professional-he or she can help you determine how you can exercise safely and get the most out of it.
- Stretching before and after exercising
- Helps prepare the muscles for activity
- Reduces the likelihood of injuring or straining muscles
- Can also increase your flexibility
- Cardiovascular or aerobic exercise (includes walking, jogging, bicycling, cross-country skiing, or low-impact aerobics)
- Strengthens the heart and improves the body's ability to use oxygen
- Reduces your resting heart rate and blood pressure and improves your breathing so your heart will not have to work as hard during exercise
- Strengthening exercises
- Repeatedly tighten muscles to make them stronger
- Many strengthening exercises are not recommended for patients with heart conditions, so it is important to consult your health care professional before performing this type of activity
- Make exercise work for you
- In general, every workout should include three phases: warm-up, conditioning, and cool down. It is important to perform each one in order to properly prepare your body for exercise and achieve the most from it.
- Warm-up: preparing for exercise
- Activities include stretching, flexibility exercises, and beginning your workout at a low-intensity level
- Helps your body make a slow transition from rest to exercise while improving your flexibility and reducing muscle soreness
- During this phase, your breathing, heart rate, and body temperature will slowly increase
- Conditioning: the period of exercise
- Calories are burned and your body experiences the benefits of exercise
- It's important to be aware of the intensity of your exercise by checking your heart rate. Talk to your health care professional for more information on how to do this
- Cool down: gradual recovery from exercise
- Brings your heart rate and blood pressure back down to pre-exercise levels
- Decreases the intensity of your activity. You can even do some of the same stretching activities that you did during your warm-up
- Sitting, standing still or lying down during this phase is not the proper ways to achieve the benefits of cooling down. Doing so may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded
- Your medication matters, too
- Changing your nutrition and fitness habits for the better is an important step in managing your high blood pressure. Making healthy changes in your life is something you can take pride in doing for yourself. However, for some people it may not be enough. That's why it's just as important to take your medication on a regular basis, as directed by your health care professional. All 3 parts of your treatment-healthy eating habits, regular exercise, and taking your medication-are needed to control your blood pressure properly.
- Simple, safe steps for improving your heart's health
- Regular aerobic exercise can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 10 points. But because exercise makes your heart work harder, you need to be careful, especially if you're just starting or your blood pressure is very high (greater than 159/99. Follow these tips:
- Help your heart adjust to activity. Always warm up and cool down.
- Be moderate. Avoid competitive exercises that include bursts of intense exertion. Easy aerobic exercise such as walking is good for people of all blood pressure levels.
- Use weights carefully. Resistance training can lower blood pressure by 2 to 4 percent, but if you have uncontrolled hypertension (greater than or equal to 160/100), you should not lift weights. If you have your doctor's okay, do one set of 10 to 15 reps using a moderate, not heavy, weight. Never hold your breath while lifting, and always exhale when lifting or exerting effort.
- Stand slowly. After stretching or exercising on the floor, get up slowly. Some blood pressure medications can cause "orthostatic hypotension," a condition that makes you dizzy when you stand quickly.
- Do it daily. Consistent exercise lowers blood pressure best. Try to work out at least 4 days a week, daily if possible. For best results, try doing at least 20 minutes each time.
- Skip caffeine. A pre workout cup of coffee may cause a spike in blood pressure. Avoid caffeine 3 to 4 hours before exercising.
- Get an accurate measure of intensity. Blood pressure medications can interfere with heart rate, so monitor your intensity with a 1-to-10 perceived exertion scale. With 1 being resting and 10 being sprinting, stay at 4 to 6, where you're breathing a little heavy, but not out of breath.