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Exercising with High Blood Pressure

Exercise Your Right to Lower Blood Pressure

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If you have high blood pressure, the best piece of advice anyone can give you is to listen to your body. How you feel can and should dictate the frequency and intensity of your workouts. While it is possible—and preferable—to lose weight while reducing your blood pressure, your top priority is to neutralize the threat of blood pressure before you push yourself toward more dramatic exercise goals. To do this, consistency is your best friend. Frequency (number of exercise sessions per week) is more important than intensity when you are starting out.

**All of the following exercise recommendations assume that your blood pressure is under control (whether through medication or diet) and is monitored by a doctor.

Aerobic Exercise Recommendations
  • If you are new to exercise or haven’t been active in awhile, start slowly and increase the time and intensity of your workout as you get stronger. A good starting point is 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity, 3 days per week. Examples include walking, swimming and biking.
  • If 30 minutes is too much, start with 10-20 minutes and increase from there. Eventually, the goal is to work up to 45-60 minutes, 5 days per week.
  • It is important to warm up before and cool down after each exercise session (5-10 minutes each).
  • The best activities to do are the ones you enjoy and will stick with.
Notes on Strength Training

Many people with hypertension avoid strength training because they are afraid that it will increase their blood pressure. But research shows that these fears are generally unfounded.

It’s true that if you have high blood pressure, you should avoid strenuous strength-related activities, such as trying to open a sticking window or attempting to move a stalled car. Activities of this type, including isometric strength training, may cause excessively high blood pressure responses and are potentially dangerous for many people with hypertension. Other than that, you are encouraged to follow a sensible strength training routine.
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About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.

Member Comments

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  • Hello, for me, starting high blood pressure medication actually helped increase my exercise tolerance. I started losing weight after that. I would exercise and my heart rate would go up, I would get so red in the face, and sweat profusely. After being diagnosed with high blood pressure and then starting medications, I was much improved. I am now on 2 different medications but I can exercise much better. Hopefully, I can lose weight and then get off blood pressure medication. Good luck to everyone out there! - 10/30/2013 3:16:39 PM
  • My BP med has an 'ace inhibitor' which causes tiredness. In my 60's but always active and suddenly realized I was doing nothing but sitting in my chair, in front of the TV, for months. So hard to exercise when you feel like this.

    I try to counter it by walking or doing yard work in the morning before taking my pill. Am trying hard to lose weight and hope that helps. - 7/14/2013 12:16:54 PM
    I'm new here and have the article and comments helpful.Thanks Everyone. I have out kof control BP and have been on meds for years. I'm. Hoping that with summer eating better, less sodium and more exercise I. Will see a drop in weight and BP. - 5/11/2013 10:30:07 AM
    well don't do weighs more just walks very short. and yard work , garden work to. - 5/4/2013 12:57:02 PM
  • A better question is, "Should you strength train with an aortic aneurysm??". - 12/27/2012 7:56:47 PM
    good advice - 12/27/2012 2:45:07 PM
  • Good information. - 12/27/2012 12:10:56 PM
  • Actually, recent studies have shown that weight training DOES help lower blood pressure. This article needs an update! - 11/2/2012 3:24:28 PM
    OOPS forgot to mention, 30 minutes a day on my glider machine DRIVES my BP down to the best possible range within a few minutes after exercising, and it stays there for a good amount of time... - 12/23/2010 3:24:55 AM
    after arguing for a year with a visiting nurse who volunteered to visit our apartment building to test residents for high blood pressure, I finally agreed to take a lisinopril with thiazide to try to control my HBP, a few months ago I bought my own monitor which wraps around the wrist, and checks out very well with my doctor's office visits as far as accuracy, I found to my surprise that a huge component to brief episodes of HBP was emotional reactions to silly stuff like a scary science fiction movie :) I started out with 12.5 mg and now use 25 mg daily, chemistry has three main aspects, temperature, pressure and concentration, my temperature is almost always naturally low, but my addiction to sodium, and lack of control of the pressure component, caused a life long problem with HBP, the prescription does have a few side effects, however the ability to control spikes in BP is worth it. - 12/23/2010 3:19:55 AM

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