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Exercise to Lower Blood Pressure

Dietary modifications and lifestyle management remain the cornerstone of prevention of hypertension in the community. A large body of evidence has accumulated demonstrating that physical activity is associated with improved cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Doctors recommend that an adult must engage in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate and vigorous intensity aerobic exercise. The aerobic activity must be performed in episodes of 10 minutes.  Muscle strengthening exercise should be performed at least twice a week.

Doctor measuring blood pressure – studio shot on white background

Myths: Exercise and Hypertension

There are many myths associated with exercise in hypertension which needs to be addressed.

  • Can a person suffering from Hypertension exercise?

The answer is definitely YES but with a caveat. If you are a newly diagnosed hypertensive it is advisable to consult your doctor to get your exercise prescription. Doctor, after appropriate testing, will tell you what is the intensity of exercise you can engage into. It is strongly recommended that every individual participating in competitive sport must have a thorough cardiac evaluation done.

  • Should antihypertensive medications be stopped and substituted with an increased level of physical activity?

The answer is a definite NO. Remember exercise can prevent hypertension up to some extent but once you are diagnosed as hypertensive you need to take pills every day and for whole life. Exercise can supplement drug therapy and help reduce the number of pills but cannot substitute it.

Important Points:

Diet is essential – It cannot be overemphasized that dietary modification is an important accompaniment of exercise and is essential to achieve the desired result.

Obesity is a major risk factor for Hypertension – It is important to emphasize that overweight and obesity are strongly associated with hypertension. Exercise has very limited efficacy in reducing weight.

To conclude, exercise is the most important preventive tool for hypertension and is associated with good cardiovascular outcome in those who are diagnosed hypertensives.  It should be combined with dietary modification and weight control. It is not a substitute for drug therapy in those are diagnosed hypertensive.  It is important to seek medical advice at every stage. Your exercise prescription like any drug prescription should be monitored by experts.

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