Lowering blood pressure through exercise

If your blood pressure is higher than it should be, one of the first pieces of advice you may receive from your doctor or nurse is to become more physically active. With regular exercise comes physical fitness, and the fitter you are the quicker your blood pressure is likely to return to healthy levels.

It is possible that this advice may initially concern some people as exercise can raise blood pressure, although this will only be for a short period of time. Most people with raised blood pressure should be able to increase how much exercise they take part in without a problem. However, if your blood pressure is very high your doctor may initially prefer to lower it first of all through weight loss, if applicable, or even blood pressure-lowering medication.

What type of exercise?

Aerobic exercises that use large muscle groups to work the heart and lungs are the most effective and safe form of exercise for lowering blood pressure. It's important to keep the intensity of the activity at a moderate level in order to avoid the blood pressure increasing too high during the session.

Moderate activities, such as brisk walking, light cycling and swimming, gardening and active housework, provide a huge range of benefits including good weight control, improved energy mood and concentration, reduced blood pressure and reduced risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes and certain cancers.

Adding exercise to your daily life

Every adult should be active for at least 30 minutes a day, at least five times a week - but modern life can make it difficult for some people to find time for exercise in their busy schedules. However, being active doesn't just mean hitting the gym, and you can break that 30-minute requirement down into smaller chunks too. By making just a few small changes to your lifestyle, you can easily build that 30-minute period into your daily routine.

Adding more walking to your day will help you naturally get the exercise you need without even trying, so try to walk wherever you can. Leave the car at home when you go to the shops, or get off the bus a stop or two early on the journey to work. Try to avoid using escalators and lifts and take the stairs instead, and make lunches at your desk a thing of the past. A lunchtime walk will help with your exercise regime and can help lower your stress levels, too.


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