As you grow older, the risk of hypertension increases. This means it is essential to take necessary precautions to control and prevent high blood pressure. Recent studies have revealed that exercise can play a major role in helping you control high blood pressure. This certainly doesn’t mean running a marathon or even joining a gym, just a few minutes of physical activity every day can do wonders.
A study 1 Naci H, Salcher-Konrad M, Dias S, et al How does exercise treatment compare with antihypertensive medications? A network meta-analysis of 391 randomised controlled trials assessing exercise and medication effects on systolic blood pressure British Journal of Sports Medicine Published Online First: 18 December 2018. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2018-099921 published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, highlighted that one or more in every four UK adults experience high blood pressure. This is a significant risk factor for heart attack or stroke. While it is more common among the elderly, it can still affect anyone regardless of age. The study found that regular exercise can be as effective as the majority of available medications in controlling blood pressure.
Another study 2 Effect of Exercise and Pharmacological Interventions on Visceral Adiposity: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Long-term Randomized Controlled Trials. Rao, Shreya et al. Mayo Clinic Proceedings , Volume 94 , Issue 2 , 211 – 224 focused on the levels of visceral fat, which is the type of fat that isn’t visible on the outside but instead covers various internal organs. High levels of visceral fat can be extremely harmful to health and result in a number of health issues, including high blood pressure.
The study found that while both medication and exercise can help in decreasing visceral fat, regular exercise offered the most advantages. Additionally, modifying the diet is another effective way of reducing body fat and obesity.
As you start losing visceral fat, your risk of high blood pressure decreases and you can also overcome numerous other illnesses associated with high amount of body fat.
Exercising to Reduce Blood Pressure
So, how often do you have to exercise to reduce fat and control blood pressure?
It is best to aim for moderate activity, which can include brisk walking for 30 minutes for at least five days a week. If you are unable to exercise for 30 minutes then you can opt for shorter but more vigorous physical activity, for instance jogging for 10 to 20 minutes for three to four days a week.
If you have been inactive for a long period of time, it is best to start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity. Here is what you should do:
- Start with warming up your body. This should take five to ten minutes of stretching and other warm up exercises that can help your body prepare for the workout and prevent any potential injuries.
- Slowly increase the intensity. Don’t try to overdo it. Keep in mind that while exercising, you should still be able to talk. If you can sing then you need to turn it up a notch.
- After the workout, give your body time to cool down. Avoid stopping the workout suddenly. Decrease the intensity for the next few minutes till you feel your heartbeat getting normal.
An inactive lifestyle has been associated with an increase in blood pressure. Therefore, it is important to include regular workouts as part of your daily activities. Regular activity will help in reducing blood pressure and can be as good as any blood pressure medication. In case of any confusion, it is best to consult your doctor to determine the right fitness plan for you.