Ask Dr. Salada: Can Exercise Help Get my Blood Pressure Down?

Q: I just saw my doctor and my blood pressure was found to be “borderline high.” What does that mean and can exercise help get my blood pressure down?
High blood pressure is very common, especially as we age. If left untreated, high blood pressure could lead to strokes and kidney disease and can contribute to cardiovascular disease, which can lead to heart attacks.
Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is defined as blood pressure that is consistently found to be higher than 140/90. Recent research has determined that the best range for blood pressure is actually 110-120/70-80. If your blood pressure is higher than the range mentioned above, you should meet with your doctor as soon as possible to discuss your options and to determine whether or not it is safe to exercise.

Lifestyle management is key to lowering blood pressure, such as achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, limiting sodium in your diet to less than 2000 mg in a day, limiting alcohol to less than 2 ounces per week and doing regular cardiovascular training. Studies have shown that individuals, who spent a total of 150 minutes exercising per week in equally divided increments, were 14% less likely to develop coronary heart disease. In fact, just 15 minutes a day of low intensity activity can decrease mortality and lengthen your life!

The best plan is shoot for a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic activity on most days of the week. Stay away from heavy weight training until your blood pressure is better controlled as it can actually aggravate hypertension by raising the resistance of blood flow through your muscles. Total Gym users with high blood pressure – stay at a lower incline level to continue to strengthen and stretch muscles at a lower intensity. If your blood pressure remains elevated beyond the ideal ranges after being consistent with lifestyle changes for 4-6 weeks, you should meet with your doctor to discuss what other options are available to you in order to maximize your health.

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Exercise will temporarily raise your blood pressure, so exercising when your blood pressure is high and not controlled is not safe. Always talk to your doctor if you are not sure if exercise is safe for you.

So, until next time, stay healthy, KEEP MOVING and enjoy your Total Gym!