The Hypertension And Exercise Connection


Every cell in an individual's body requires an ongoing supply of blood to deliver oxygen and nutrients and to remove waste products. This flow of blood causes a certain amount of pressure to be exerted on the wall of a person's arteries.

An individual sufferers from Hypertension when blood pressure is determined to be or exceeding

a) 140 mm Hg (millimetres of mercury) systolic (as the heart contracts and pushes blood through the arteries) or

b) 90 mm Hg diastolic (as the heart relaxes and fills with blood)
on two or more separate occasions.

The primary factor of high blood pressure is that it makes the heart work harder and puts greater pressure on the arteries than is necessary. As a result the heart may become enlarged and less efficient, and the arterial walls may be damaged. Such damage can reduce the flow of blood and oxygen to the kidneys, heart, brain, and eyes, and can lead to blood clots in the narrowing arteries.

It is severely surprising then that Hypertension ranks as the most common risk factor for disease of the heart, blood vessels and kidneys, including heart failure, stroke, kidney failure, and atherosclerosis. In fact, high blood pressure has been found to contribute to millions of deaths per year worldwide.

This is of particular concern considering that hypertension can be controlled and even prone.

Factors that can help prevent hypertension, or at least reduce its severity or postpon it include some very basic diet and lifestyle steps:

Consume less salt (sodium and potassium products), maintain desirable body weight, moderate the consumption of alcohol and caffeine, increase calcium intake, engaging in relaxation techniques and most importantly become physically active.

While drug therapy has been considered to be the most effective form of treating high blood pressure, regular exercise has been demonstrated to have a lower effect on systolic and diastolic blood pressure. It is a very safe and valuable therapy for many hypertensive individuals and has many additional applications to a healthy and active life. A correctly designed exercise program may be as effective as any drug therapy for some people.

Research shows that low to moderate intensity (60-80% of MHR) aerobic exercise can lower systolic blood pressure by 5-25 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 3-15 mm Hg in mild to moderate hypertensive individuals.

When using exercise as a mode of managing hypertension, follow these key steps:

* Emphasis non-weight-bearing activities, as most hypertensives are obese or elderly.

* Maintain exercise intensity below 80% MHR. Evidence exists that exercise intensity above this does not produce beneficial effects on blood pressure.

* Ensure exercise duration lasts a minimum of 20-30 minutes. Allow for adequate progress up to 60 minutes-which will also help promote weight loss.

* Exercise at least four times per week (although exercising everyday is preferred.

* Warm up for no less than 5 minutes to ensure an appropriate preparation for the cardiovascular system. This ensures no sudden changes in blood pressure.

* Cool down for 5-10 minutes to prevent dizziness, light-headedness and fainting.

* Strength exercises should be prescribed at a low-moderate intensity. You must be able to perform 12-20 repetitions. Avoid exercises that require lifting weights above the head ie. Shoulder press.

It was thought that only aerobic exercise would reduce blood pressure and that resistance training with weights would be harmful. However recent studies have concluded that resistance and aerobic exercise are equally effective in decreasing the severity of the condition.

Lowering systolic blood pressure by a mere 2 mm Hg has shown to reduce deaths from stroke by 6%, heart disease by 4% and all causes by 3%. Furthermore, a drop in diastolic blood pressure of as little as 1-3 mm Hg can lower the overall incidence of hypertension in the general public by more than 20-50%.

Hypertension is both treatable and preventable. At Fittorporp Asia, we can design and show you the most effective and safest exercise program to reduce your blood pressure and put you back on track to a healthy and active life.