First of all, let’s look at some high blood pressure facts from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM):
- High blood pressure (also referred to as Hypertension) is defined as a chronically elevated blood pressure greater than 140/90 mmHg. Also stated as “one forty over ninety”.
- Elevation in blood pressure increases chances of a heart attack or stroke
- More than 75 million Americans have high blood pressure
- Three out of every four people over age 60 has high blood pressure
- Many men and women don’t even know they have high blood pressure
- High blood pressure can be controlled
- Death rates from heart attacks and strokes in the United States have decreased by 40-60 percent over the last 30 years
That’s good news. And those who are physically active tend to live longer, healthier lives. But let’s explore how you can lower your blood pressure with some simple exercise.
In 2011, the ACSM recommended for healthy adults at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity (working hard enough to break a sweat, but still able to carry on a conversation) five days per week. Or 20 minutes of more vigorous activity three days per week. Combinations of moderate and vigorous intensity activity can be performed to meet this recommendation.
The ACSM also states that a well-rounded physical activity program includes Aerobic Exercise and strength training exercise, but not necessarily in the same session. Let’s focus on Aerobic Exercise:
According to the American Heart Association (AMA), with an average weight of either 150lbs or 200lbs, adults can expect to burn the following calories with the following exercises:
Walking at 3mph: 320 – 416 calories/hour
Running at 5.5mph: 660 – 962 calories/hour
Cycling at 12mph: 410 – 534 calories/hour
Swimming at 25yds/min: 275 – 358 calories/hour
Most of us find it difficult to add exercise to our already busy day — even if it will improve our health. However, the physical activity required to lower blood pressure can be added without making major lifestyle changes. The ACSM suggests these simple measures to increase activity as a part of your existing daily activity:
- Park your car further away so you can add some walk time to and from work
- Take the stairs, instead of the elevator
- Take a 10-15 minute walk during your lunch break
- Choose a restaurant with low-fat, low-cholesterol options and walk to it for lunch
- Take your children or grandchildren to the park
- Take a 30-minute window-shopping walk around the mall when weather is bad
- Wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to start your day with exercise (Most people find they look forward to their exercise time!)
You can vary all of these activities to make exercise interesting!
Before You Exercise
The ACSM recommends that, prior to beginning any exercise program, you should see your doctor and ask for an medical evaluation. It’s important for your doctor to clear you for strenuous activity. This keeps them in the loop as to your daily life and goals, but also allows them to provide critical, personal advice on how to go about your activities.
The ACSM warns, “Not all exercise programs are suitable for everyone, and some programs may result in injury. Activities should be carried out at a pace that is comfortable for the user. Users should discontinue participation in any exercise activity that causes pain or discomfort. In such event, medical consultation should be immediately obtained.”
Columbia Athletic Clubs provides everything you need to achieve your health and fitness goals. Talk to a Columbia staff member today!
American College of Sports Medicine
American Heart Association