According to the American Heart Association, nearly a third of the population of the United States — more than 100 million people — have high blood pressure. These numbers are deeply concerning given that high blood pressure is associated with various conditions including stroke, heart disease, and kidney damage. Fortunately, there are relatively easy steps you can take to lower your blood pressure if you have been diagnosed with, or are at risk of, hypertension. In fact, you can even bring your blood pressure into a range considered normal entirely on your own.
One of the quickest and healthiest ways to lower blood pressure is through regular exercise. However, it is important that you choose exercises that are safe for hypertension. Some exercises, such as heavy weightlifting, are a bad idea if your blood pressure isn’t well-controlled since they can further elevate your blood pressure and put you at greater risk of complications.
Fortunately, there are a number of great exercises that can help improve your blood pressure and overall health if you do them regularly, including:
Exercises for Patients with Hypertension
Body weight squats with punches: This heart-healthy exercise combines aerobic activity with resistance training. To do this exercise, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and turn your toes slightly outward. You can cross your hands over your chest or put them down at your sides. Bend your knees and lower your body until your thighs are parallel to the ground, making sure your knees stay behind your toes as you look down. Pause before slowly rising back up to standing. As you are rising up, throw in one or two punches. Make sure your core is tight and your breath is flowing freely as you’re punching. For each punch, extend one arm out just shy of full extension and pull back quickly, then switch to the other arm. Once you’ve completed the punches, repeat the whole process beginning with the squat again.
Body weight squats with jumping jacks: For this exercise, use the same squat procedure laid out in the previous exercise. But this time, instead of punching on the rise back up, perform the squats with your arms at your chest or at your sides. After 15 to 20 repetitions, do 15 to 20 jumping jacks.
Treadmill or elliptical workouts: Exercising on a treadmill or elliptical machine is a great way to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of cardiovascular disease. Move at whatever pace feels comfortable for you and try to build up the length of time you can keep moving over time.
Brisk walking: Brisk walking is a great exercise for your whole body. It promotes heart health and healthy blood pressure while also protecting your joints and feet.
Bent-over row: This exercise is a safe way to strengthen your upper body muscles if you have hypertension. It helps you tone the upper and lower back muscles with posture and hip flexion while also targeting the pulling muscles, which are important for everyday tasks. To do this exercise, start with a shoulder-width stance. Hold a weight in each hand that you could complete 15 to 20 reps with using some effort, but not so much that you feel strain. Hold the weights by your sides with your palms pointed toward each other, then bend your knees slightly and bend over at the waist while keeping your core tight. Once your upper body is at a 45-degree bend, pull the dumbbells up toward your chest, keeping them close to your sides as you pull up. You should feel your shoulder blade moving closer together as you do this. Stand and bring the weights to your sides. Repeat.
Band resistance: Band resistance training is a good way to build or maintain strength when you have high blood pressure. You can use bands to do exercises that are good for your core, back, arms, and legs. These exercises have the added benefit of being easier on the joints. You can find a whole range of specific exercises online.
If you are interested in learning more about safe ways to lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk for complications of hypertension, contact Associates in Nephrology. Our doctors can help you understand the risks of high blood pressure and help you navigate your hypertension diagnosis.