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Entry for November 12, 2008

 Is it safe to exercise with high blood pressure?



While the current research base is not strong enough to draw a firm conclusion, studies published to date suggest that moderate-intensity activity (40 to 75 percent of the maximum oxygen uptake) may be most effective in lowering blood pressure. The current intensity recommendation for hypertensive individuals is to use low to moderate intensity exercise.

Regular physical activity has also been shown to be effective in reducing the relative risk of developing hypertension by 19 to 30 percent. Similarly, a low cardio-respiratory fitness in middle age is associated with a 50 percent greater risk of developing hypertension. Results have been similar in both men and women.

Prior to starting a new exercise program, individuals with known hypertension should obtain clearance from their primary care physician. It is important to remember that the key to a successful exercise program is consistency over time.

Don't try to conquer the world the first time out. Be patient, start slowly and gradually increase frequency and duration. During the planning phase carefully consider what barriers might stand in the way of consistency; then develop strategies and accountabilities to assist in eliminating these barriers.

Endurance activities such as walking, swimming, cycling and low-impact aerobics should be the core of the exercise program. Exercises that include an intense isometric component that can cause extreme and adverse fluctuations in blood pressure should be avoided.

As aerobic conditioning improves, add low resistance, high repetition weight training. Circuit training is preferred over free weights. During weight training, holding one's breath should be avoided because it can result in large fluctuations in blood pressure and increase the potential of passing out or, in some individuals, possibly result in life threatening events such as abnormal heart rhythms.

Ideally, hypertensive individuals should exercise five to six times per week depending on their initial fitness level. However, improvement can be achieved with as little as three sessions per week. The total exercise duration should be in the range of 30 to 60 minutes per session.

2008-11-12 11:56:36 GMT
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