What kind of exercise can I do with high blood pressure? How much exercise do I really need to do each day? What if I don’t have time to exercise at all? Can increasing physical activity lower blood pressure? Do I have to exercise every day? (I won’t be answering all these questions today, but will address them all in time. It’s a big topic!)
Before introducing new physical activity, please check with your healthcare professional.
When I was diagnosed with high blood pressure, I learned I needed to add more physical activity to my day. It’s taken a long time to build good habits, but now I do a 15 minute session of dance cardio (turn on the music and move around my home) and a 30 minute walk at least 5 out of 7 days a week. Here are some tips if you’re looking to get started:
4 Tips to Start Introducing More Physical Activity
- Choose a Convenient Activity: The blood pressure lowering and heart strengthening benefits only last if you keep up the exercise. The heart is a muscle: you’ve got to keep putting in the work to see results. If you know that you won’t stick to going to the gym to walk on the treadmill most days of the week, choose another option. Maybe take a walk in the neighborhood after dinner with the family or around your work after eating lunch. If you live in an apartment building, perhaps going up and down the stairs repeatedly to get some exercise. What I’m getting at is: convenience and accessibility can go a long way to keep you to your goals. Makes sense right? If it takes way too much effort to do, it’s hard to incorporate exercise into our busy lives!
- Some Exercise is Better than No Exercise: It’s understandable to think Oh I don’t have 30 minutes to go for a run today so there’s really no point in doing anything. If you don’t have time, healthcare professionals suggest breaking up the longer exercise session. For example: instead of one 30 minute brisk walk, try three 10 minute bouts of exercise during different times of the day. They don’t even all have to be the same type of exercise.
- Have Some Fun!: Building a new habit is hard. If it feels like an obligation, it might be harder to feel committed. Your health is worth it though. One way is to make exercise a bit more fun. Do you have young children? What about a daily 15 minute dance party? Might be a fun activity and tradition to build a healthy family life. Personally, I absolutely LOVE listening to music. I’ve made a Spotify playlist of upbeat songs that make me excited to get up and dance. I saved a pair of walking shoe for indoor use, and I wear them when I dance around my home. Do I know how to dance? Nope! But it’s fun, it gets my heart pumping and I don’t even have to step out my front door.
- Ease In Slowly: If you are a fairly sedentary person, meaning you don’t usually get much exercise or physical activity, be mindful that this will be an adjustment period for your body. If you suddenly decide to go for an hour run each day, that might be quite hard on your joints to deal with such a big change! Start small. Go for a walk. Also, listen and be kind to your body. Did your knee feel a bit sore after biking for 45 minutes? Maybe back off to 30 minutes and go slower. Of course if discomfort occurs with exercise, check in with your doctor. In addition, sometimes a physical therapy consultation would be appropriate to help develop an exercise program that is safe for your body.
I’ll be talking a lot more about the topic of exercising to lower high blood pressure. Kudos to you for getting started on this journey! The first step is the hardest step sometimes and you should feel proud for prioritizing your health.
Oh! By the way, the picture up top is from a 30 minute walk I took this morning. It’s a Sunday tradition in my household to grab some breakfast and then take a nice walk.
Have you started exercising to lower your high blood pressure? Would love to hear how it’s going!
Categories: Exercise and Physical Activity