Exercise for High Blood Pressure

exercise for high blood pressureHigh blood pressure, also called hypertension, is a very common issue effecting roughly 1 in 3 adults in the United States. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for a number of deadly diseases including heart disease and stroke but luckily exercise has been shown to not only help prevent high blood pressure but manage it in people who already have it. Many studies have looked at the relationship between exercise and high blood pressure and have found some very promising results.

Aerobic Exercise

Researchers at Tulane University reviewed several studies that were done on people who had hypertension and people who didn’t to see if aerobic exercise would have an effect on their blood pressure. All of the studies they reviewed had a combined total of 2,419 test subjects so they had a lot of data to consider.

woman on exercise bike

After going over the data they found that aerobic exercise did help people who had and did not have hypertension lower their blood pressure by roughly 3 mmHg which is a significant amount. These findings suggest that aerobic exercise can help prevent hypertension for people who don’t have it and can help people who are hypertensive manage their condition.

A similar study was done by researchers at the University of Leuven who reviewed data that had been collected on a total of 105 study groups to see if aerobic endurance training and weight training each had an effect on blood pressure.

  • When it came to aerobic endurance training what they found was similar to what the last study showed which was that it caused a drop in blood pressure of around 3 mmHg.
  • They also found that people who did aerobic training were able to lower the activity of an enzyme called renin by 20% which is an enzyme that increases blood pressure.
  • The effects of weight training on blood pressure isn’t studied as much but the researchers in this study found that weight training was also able to lower blood pressure by roughly 3 mmHg.

This study shows that both weight training and aerobic training can be helpful in managing or preventing hypertension.

Resistance Training

As I mentioned, not as many studies have looked into the effects that resistance training have on blood pressure but another study done at Catholic University did just that. The researchers in this study reviewed several studies that tested the effects that weight training had on blood pressure.

woman lifting dumbbells

The studies they used involved a total of 341 people who either had or did not have hypertension and were instructed to follow a weight training routine. Much like the last study they found that resistance training caused a drop in resting blood pressure by around 3 mmHg. This study also suggests that weight training can be an effective way of lowering blood pressure.

Improves Discomfort

People who have chronic high blood pressure sometimes experience daily discomfort from issues like difficulty breathing, headache or chest pain. A study done at Taipei Medical University wanted to study the effects that aerobic endurance training could have on people with high blood pressure and whether or not those effects would improve the discomfort that people with hypertension felt.

This study included 102 subjects who had mild to moderate high blood pressure and were asked to either follow an exercise routine 3 days per week or be in a control group that did not exercise.

  • The exercise program lasted for 10 weeks during which time researchers saw that aerobic endurance training lowered blood pressure by as much as 13 mmHg which extremely significant.
  • They also found that it reduced the amount of pain and discomfort people felt from hypertension.

Exercise is a very effective way of managing high blood pressure and could serve as a good substitute for blood pressure medications which sometimes have side effects.

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