To lower the risk of high blood pressure, or hypertension, public health officials have urged Americans to reduce their salt intake. In addition to modifying your diet, however, a sensible exercise program is essential to control hypertension.
Significant evidence reveals that moderate exercise for as little as 30 minutes a day may lower blood pressure more effectively than intense exercise. The best exercises to lower blood pressure are endurance activities, such as jogging, walking, running and cycling. Adding resistance training to the overall exercise regimen can help reduce high blood pressure in adults even more. However, the American Heart Association does not recommend resistance training for people with uncontrolled high blood pressure.
It is also important to use common sense when beginning an exercise program by taking the following precautions:
- Have a thorough physical examination, and obtain your physician’s approval before beginning an exercise program.
- Start exercising slowly, and gradually build up frequency and duration.
- Use circuit training for resistance rather than free weights if you already have hypertension.
- Take precautions to avoid dehydration, and be aware of the heat when you exercise.
Remember that nutrition and physical fitness go hand in hand. The recommended daily intake of sodium for healthy adults should not exceed 2500 milligrams, the amount contained in a teaspoon of salt. Because the majority of salt in our diet comes from prepared and prepackaged foods, one way to reduce salt intake on your own is to pay close attention to the amount of sodium listed on product labels and purchase products accordingly. When cooking at home, use seasonings other than salt to enhance food flavor and palatability.
To make the most of your efforts to lower your blood pressure, you will need to visit your family physician regularly. We can work with you and your physician to customize an exercise plan to help you achieve your long-term health goals.