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Working Out Safely with High Blood Pressure

Fitness for mind and body.

Following are simple and safe tips for improving the health of your heart.

Regular aerobic exercise can lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of ten points.

Doctor taking blood pressure reading

However, because exercise does make your heart work harder, you need to be careful, especially if you are just starting an exercise regime or if your blood pressure is excessively high. (Greater than 159/99)

To exercise safely, follow these tips:

Be Moderate
Avoid competitive exercises that include bursts of intense exertion. Easy aerobic exercise such as walking is good for people of all blood pressure levels.

Use Weights Carefully
Resistance training can lower blood pressure by two to four-percent, but if you have uncontrolled hypertension (greater than 160/100) you should not lift weights. If you have the permission of your doctor, do one set of ten to fifteen repetitions using a moderate, not heavy, weight. Never hold your breath while lifting and always exhale when lifting or exerting effort.

Stand Slowly
After stretching or exercising on the floor, get up slowly. Some blood pressure medications can cause "orthostatic hypotension", a condition that makes you dizzy when you stand quickly.

Do it Daily
Consistent exercise lowers blood pressure best. Try to work out at least four days a week, daily if possible. For best results, try doing at least 20 minutes each time.

Skip Caffeine
A pre-workout cup of coffee may cause a spike in blood pressure. Avoid caffeine three to four hours before exercising.

Quick Tip: Always warm-up and cool down to help your heat adjust to activity.

When Your Heart Rate Lies
Blood pressure medications can interfere with heart rate, so monitor your intensity with a one to ten perceived exertion scale. With one being resting and ten being sprinting, stay at four to six, where you are breathing a little heavy, but not out of breath.

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