High blood pressure: Lifestyle changes to reduce reading
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About a third of UK adults have high blood pressure, even though it’s often symptomless. If you have high blood pressure, reducing it a little bit by changing your lifestyle can lower your risk of life-threatening conditions such as heart attack, stroke, kidney disease and peripheral arterial disease. Simple lifestyle changes, such as starting to be more physically active or eating healthier, can lower your blood pressure in a matter of weeks. Express.co.uk reveals the 7 best types of exercise to lower your blood pressure reading.
Physical inactivity is linked to high blood pressure, so it’s natural that being more active will lower your blood pressure.
Whether you already have a high blood pressure reading or you simply want to prevent your blood pressure from rising, exercise is one of the best things you can do.
According to Blood Pressure UK, being active lowers your blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good shape.
If your blood pressure is more than 140/90mmHg to 179/99mmHg or higher, you have high blood pressure.
Even if your blood pressure is in the healthy range, it is important to exercise to keep your level healthy.
The Blood Pressure UK site explains: “If you have high blood pressure, your doctor or nurse will probably suggest that you try to become more active to lower it.
“Exercise also strengthens the bones, improves balance, and keeps your muscles and joints moving to help keep you active and independent in later life.
“It can also give you more energy, lift your mood, and even improve your cognitive function.”
Exercise is particularly important if you are overweight because being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body.
If this is the case, your blood pressure will be higher than normal all the time until you lose the excess weight.
The NHS site notes: “If you do need to lose some weight, it’s worth remembering that just losing a few pounds will make a big difference to your blood pressure and overall health.
“Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
“Adults should do at least 150 minutes (Two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity every week.”
Physical activity will cause your blood pressure to rise for a short time, so it could be dangerous to exercise if you have extremely high blood pressure.
If your blood pressure is 180/100mmHg to 199/109 mmHg you should speak to a doctor or nurse before starting any new exercise, and if your reading is 200/110mmHg or above, you should avoid starting any new activity and visit your GP as soon as possible.
However, for most people, a rise in blood pressure after exercise is nothing to worry about.
The Blood Pressure UK advice reads: “When you stop the activity your blood pressure should quickly return to normal.
“If your blood pressure is relatively high, your doctor or nurse may prefer to lower it with medicines before you start exercising.”
The 7 best exercise to lower blood pressure
Any exercise is beneficial when it comes to keeping fit, but aerobic activities are the most important type of exercise for high blood pressure.
Blood Pressure UK explains: “If you have high blood pressure, focus on aerobic activities as these will help your heart and blood vessels most, but avoid activities which put too much strain on your heart.
“Aerobic exercises are repetitive and rhythmic movements which get your heart, lungs, blood vessels and muscles working.
“They use the large muscle groups of your body, such as those in your legs, shoulders and arms.”
Some examples of aerobic exercise are:
- Heavy gardening
- Playing sport
Once you’ve managed to add aerobic exercise into your day to day life, you should also aim to do some strength training exercise.
The Mayo Clinic advises everyone to do at least two days of strength training a week.
This doesn’t have to be lifting heavy weights, you could try yoga, pilates, bodyweight exercises, working with resistance bands, climbing up hills or stairs, and even carrying heavy shopping bags!
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