'Light exercise' is one of the first things every doctor prescribes for hypertension patients. Hypertension is a condition where blood exerts a very high force against the walls of the blood vessels. While a normal person's blood pressure is usually around 120 over 80, a hypertension patient's blood pressure is higher than 140 over 90. Regular exercise helps regulate this blood pressure and improves cardiovascular health. It also improves blood circulation, thus giving you more energy and easing stress.
So, what types of exercises are best for treating hypertension?
Aerobic activities are activities that increase your heart and breathing rate. Simple household chores like mowing the lawn or swabbing the floor can also count as aerobic activities. Other such exercises include brisk walking, jogging and swimming. Alternatively, you could join a group sport such as basketball or football to increase your aerobic activity. This will make your heart stronger and reduce stress, both of which will, in turn, lower your blood pressure.
2. Strength training
Lifting weights may cause a temporary spike in blood pressure at the time of exercising, but it has a number of long-term benefits. It improves your overall cardiovascular health and helps build strong muscles. Instead of doing a few sets of lifting heavy weights, it is better for a hypertension patient to lift lighter weights more number of times. Light weights challenge the muscles by increasing the number of sets.
Practicing yoga asanas and pranayam can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress-induced hypertension. While asanas are yogic positions, pranayam refers to breathing techniques. Some asanas that are beneficial for hypertension are shavasana, sukhasan and shishuasan. Yoga benefits hypertension patients by relaxing the body and calming the nervous system.
How much exercise do you need?
With hypertension, you should be very careful to not overdo any exercise. Brisk walking for 30 minutes or jogging for 20 minutes on a daily basis is ideal. A five minute warm up and cooling down period at the beginning and end of your exercise routine is essential. If you cannot put aside half an hour each day, you could even break it up into smaller periods of 10 or 15 minutes each. When exercising, it is important to listen to your body. The moment you feel out of breath or dizzy, you must stop your exercise.
If you are a regular gym enthusiast, lifting light weights won't be an issue. However, if you live a sedentary lifestyle and are only starting a fitness routine now, it is advisable to consult your doctor before adding weight training to your schedule. You should also consult your doctor if you are above the age of 45 or if you are overweight.