About 75 million Americans (or 32 percent) have high blood pressure, according to the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s
1 in every 3 adults.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against the walls of the arteries
that carry blood from your heart to other parts of the body. Blood pressure
normally rises and falls throughout the day, but if it stays high for
too long, it can damage your heart and cause other problems. This is called
high blood pressure or hypertension.
It’s often called a “silent killer” because there are
no warning signs or symptoms, so many people don’t know they have
it. Very rarely, high blood pressure can cause symptoms like headaches
Over time, high blood pressure can harden your arteries, decreasing the
flow of blood and oxygen to your heart and other vital organs. This can cause
heart failure, and heart attack. Adults with high blood pressure have a higher risk
of developing chronic kidney disease. High blood pressure can increase
your risk of having a
stroke when arteries supplying blood and oxygen to the brain burst or block,
but being active can lower it by as much as 27 percent.
High blood pressure can affect anyone. The key to keeping your blood pressure
in check is living a healthy lifestyle—eating a balanced diet low in salt, total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and high in fresh
fruits and vegetables and
getting up and being active. Regular physical activity can be a helpful way to manage high blood pressure
Frederick Health ProMotion Fitness supports the global
Exercise is Medicine initiative. We work with you and your healthcare provider to develop an
exercise prescription tailored to your individual needs. This includes
the prevention and treatment of many chronic diseases, including hypertension.
Our highly qualified staff are degreed, certified, and specialized in
working with people who are at risk or already have chronic diseases.
If you’re at risk for or have high blood pressure, consider these
tips before starting a new exercise regimen.
Take simple steps to introduce more activity daily. It’s all about
sitting less and moving more. Consider a brisk walk with the dog around
the block, or take the stairs at work instead of the elevator. Walk to
the mailbox instead of grabbing the mail in the car on your way home.
Use a standing desk at work. There are countless opportunities to move
more throughout the day.
Talk to your doctor.
Before you begin any new activity, and especially if you have pre-existing
conditions like hypertension, always talk to your healthcare provider.
Ask about safety considerations before starting or increasing your physical
activity. It’s important to work with your healthcare provider to
reduce and control blood pressure.
Find a partner.
There’s strength in numbers. According to a
Michigan State University study, doing aerobic exercise with a partner motivates participants to
work harder and longer, compared with those working out alone. When you
work out with a friend, you’re more likely to feel motivated, adventurous
in trying new activities, and be more consistent. Do activities you enjoy
and find an activity buddy at home or work.
Know yourself and what will help you stick with your activity longer.
Maybe it’s working out first thing in the morning, getting it “out
of the way” before you start your day. Or perhaps you do better in a
supervised program like ProMotion Fitness or at a fitness center. Maybe you prefer to exercise privately from the
comfort of your own home. Whatever it is, use that as your motivation
to keep going.
Moderate-intensity aerobic activity and strength training—either
alone or combined—are recommended for people with high blood pressure.
Aerobic activity increases your heart rate and breathing. Building up
to at least 2-3 sessions per week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise
can improve your stamina and heart health. Think activities like walking,
light cycling, swimming, or water aerobics. Whether it’s 5-10 minutes
here and there or a solid 30 minutes each session, be active whenever
and wherever you can.
Moderate-intensity strength training can improve your blood pressure, too,
improving your overall health. Plus, strength training makes daily tasks
like laundry or yardwork easier and safer. Start with hand weights, resistance
bands, weight machines, or your own body doing push-ups, for example.
The goal is to start with light effort and build up to somewhat hard effort
at least 2-3 days a week, with at least 1 rest day in between. Build up
to 8-12 repetitions of challenging effort for each major muscle group.
Repeat 2-4 times.
Aerobic activity and strength training are recommended for people with
high blood pressure. However, there are other physical activities and
steps you can take to keep it under control, including:
- Take more steps. Use your smartphone or activity tracker to measure your
progress and gradually work up to 10,000 steps a day.
- Stretch your muscles 2-3 days a week, especially before and after exercise.
yoga, Tai Chi, and Pilates a try. Each helps with balance, flexibility, and strength.
Lower your stress. Prioritize your tasks, make time to relax or meditate, and don’t
ignore your own needs.
Get better sleep. Never underestimate the power of a solid 7-8 hours on your mental and
physical health, quality of life, and safety.
Stop smoking. This one’s a win for everyone. Not only does quitting tobacco reduce
your risk of lung cancer, but it also decreases the risk of your children
and others around you from developing diseases related to second-hand smoke.
Don’t drink too much alcohol. Excessive drinking can lead to many different health problems, including
chronic diseases, neurological impairments, and socio-behavior problems.
High Blood Pressure Tips & Cautions
Before starting a new fitness routine, consider these tips if you have
high blood pressure.
When possible, measure your blood pressure before activity. Do not exercise
if your resting systolic blood pressure (the top number) is greater than
220 or your diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) is greater than 105. At
ProMotion Fitness, blood pressure and heart rate are monitored as needed to help you track
your health and reach your goals.
- Ask your healthcare provider if you need to modify your medications when
starting a new exercise routine.
Drink plenty of water before, during, and after activity.
- Keep in mind that some medications like beta-blockers and diuretics may
impact your body’s ability to handle hot, humid weather. Ask your
doctor about your medications before beginning a new workout, especially
in warm conditions.
- Always start with light to medium effort.
- Gradually increase your pace and time spent being active—always start
low and go slow.
- Warm up and cool down at a leisurely pace, especially after exercise.
- Avoid straining or holding your breath while exercising. This can cause
large changes in blood pressure that increase your risk of passing out
or developing abnormal heart rhythms.
Want to learn more about controlling your blood pressure or ProMotion Fitness? Visit