High Blood Pressure – Lifestyle Changes

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It is well established that being overweight, lack of exercise and a diet that is high in saturated fats and refined sugar, contributes to the development of high blood pressure. In any personalized health strategy, establishing a healthy weight, healthy diet and exercise are the foundations of a good strategy, no matter how old you are!


In 1999 a Canadian study concluded that moderate physical activity with rhythmic movements with the lower limbs for 50-60 minutes, 3 or 4 times per week, reduces blood pressure and is better than vigorous exercise. A 2013 American study of high intensity resistance training in obese young men concluded that the cardioprotective effects of resistance training may be related to effects on central blood pressure i.e. it is good for lowering blood pressure. Finally an Australian group reviewed all the studies on exercise and high blood pressure that were published between 1975 and 2012 and concluded that aerobic exercise for 30 to 40 minutes at 60% to 85% of maximal heart rate, most days of the week significantly improves blood pressure. Resistance training (three to four sets of eight to 12 repetitions at 10 repetition maximum, 3 days a week) also improves blood pressure. However, combination exercise training (15 minutes of aerobic and 15 minutes of resistance, 5 days a week) is beneficial to vascular function, but at a lower scale. Aerobic exercise seems to better benefit blood pressure and vascular function.

Always inform a personal trainer or exercise monitor/teacher that you suffer from high blood pressure before starting a new form of exercise. Build up exercise gradually and do not suddenly launch into a highly intensive form of exercise. Most importantly discuss your exercise plan with your coordinating therapist.

Good for lowering Blood Pressure:

  • Aerobics
  • Cycling
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming
  • Dancing
  • Tennis
  • Jogging
  • Resistance Training
  • Pilates – good for core strength and some resistance training involved

Not Good for people with high blood pressure

  • Weight lifting
  • Squash
  • Skydiving
  • Sprinting
  • Scuba diving
  • Steep hill walking
  • Bungee jumping

This link gives excellent tips on exercising with high blood pressure: http://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/safe-exercise-tips?page=3


There are a number of good special diets aimed at lowering blood pressure.
The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet provides good basic ground rules with an eating plan and suggested recipes: http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf
The Blood Pressure UK diet information is also good and includes 10 ways to reduce salt intake.  Eating a healthy blood pressure diet (178.17 Kb)

Stress is strongly linked to high blood pressure. Everybody has coping mechanisms – these are the bad ones:
Smoking, drinking too much, overeating or undereating, blobbing in front of the TV or computer for hours on end, avoiding socializing, taking pills or drugs to relax, oversleeping, putting things off, filling every second of the day to avoid problems and taking stress out on others as angry outbursts, and even physical violence.
These are good coping mechanisms:
Going for a walk, spending time outdoors, calling a good friend, writing a diary, taking a long bath, playing with a pet, working in the garden, getting a massage, sitting quietly and reading a good book, listening to music, watching a comedy.

You’ll find great information on the four As (Avoid the stressor, Alter the stressor, Adapt to the stressor, Accept the stressor) method of stress management here: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/stress_management_relief_coping.htm

Debbie Lawrence and Sarah Bolitho’s Stress, exercise your way to health is also good info. http://www.amazon.com/Exercise-Your-Way-Health-Improve/dp/1408131803


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