High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is a major threat to your health and your quality of life. It can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack and stroke. The youth in India is more and more affected by this medical hazard. In fact, 1 in 5 young adults in our country is suffering from hypertension, according to a recent press release (1). So it is time to shift our focus to preventive rehabilitation in the younger generation.
Preventive rehabilitation is designed to reduce risk factors and prevent diseases. It is teamwork of physicians, exercise therapists, nutritionists and psychologists. In this blog post, I would like to share some exercise tips for the prevention and cure of hypertension.
Are you aware that exercise can reduce blood pressure? Indeed, regular physical activity not only reduces the stiffness in your blood vessels but also makes your heart more efficient hereby lowering your blood pressure to a desirable level.
Aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility exercise are the three components of exercise that work hand in hand to bring down your elevated BP to normal levels. And together with breathing exercises, you definitely have the upper hand against high BP!
Any activity that you do use a large muscle group for a long duration which increases your heart rate and breathing rate is known as aerobic exercise. The best examples are walking, cycling and swimming.
Strength training or Resistance Exercise
I am often faced with the question “Is resistance exercise safe?” The answer is YES. It has long-term health benefits on all muscles including the cardiac muscle and also reduces the overall resistance in the arteries which is the underlying culprit causing high BP(2).
The American heart association recommends 2 days per week of resistance exercise for cardiac and hypertensive patients.
It improves flexibility and blood flow in the muscles. Regular flexibility exercise improves muscle endurance. Yoga is the best example of this group of exercise. It is not only a mind-body aligning tool but also a great stress buster.
Find a comfortable spot at home or at work and start breathing deeply and slowly in a relaxed way for 10-15 minutes. This is known as deep breathing or regulated breathing or pranayama and it helps to relax your mind and your body. Special breathing techniques need to be learnt from experts and practised the right way for maximum health benefits.
The above-mentioned exercises are ideal for hypertensive patients. In addition to exercise, dietary changes and stress management training for all and BP lowering medication for a few are the best tools to reduce blood pressure. Most importantly, consult your physician before beginning your exercise program. We provide personalised preventive rehabilitation programs for individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol problems, body weight issues and psychosocial problems including chronic stress and addictions. The outcomes of our programs are excellent and our results have been published in international medical journals.