top of page
  • Writer's pictureDmitri Konash

Exercise To Lower Blood Pressure

Updated: May 29, 2023

How I brought my blood pressure to 120/80 with exercise, why everyone can do it and how to start

Exercises to lower blood pressure is a scientifically proven way to lower blood pressure without medications

Can you lower hypertension with lifestyle changes (no meds)?

It is common knowledge that high blood pressure increases the risk of CVD (cardiovascular disease) and stroke. High blood pressure is medically known as hypertension.


Yes, one can definitely reduce hypertension with stress management, physical exercise and nutrition changes. I know it first hand. My doctor advised me to start with calming activities (breathing exercises, meditation), add moderate aerobic exercise and progress with time to short High Intensity Interval Exercise (HIIT). This approach helped me to fix blood pressure in less than a year.


5 Step plan to exercise to lower blood pressure

IMPORTANT: Talk to your doctor before starting a new fitness program and agree how to integrate it into your overall treatment plan.


Step 1. Make Exercise Fun


Benefits of exercise can be achieved with moderate intensity workouts of just 30 minutes a day. Walking, riding a bike with the kids or doing housework are all exercises for lower blood pressure and a good start [1].


I admit, I started exercising at the age of 48 not for fun reasons. My doctor really scared me. He said that unless I change my lifestyle and start exercising, I will soon develop a CVD. I started from walking and then jogging for 20-30 min after work every day in a nearby park.


I saw improvements in BP readings after two weeks and approximately at that time I actually started to enjoy this exercise to low blood pressure. These runs gave me an opportunity to calm down after work, reflect on my day and enjoy family dinners after that.


Step 2. Find a program or coach you trust


It doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to sign for a gym. The benefits of having a coach are safety and encouragement. Your doctor can provide you with initial coaching advice to exercising to lower blood pressure. You may want to download one of the fitness mobile apps or online fitness program. Read reviews carefully to make sure that you are engaging with a trustworthy program.


Your routine should be developed based on your underlying health and current capability. I was lucky as a friend introduced me to an experienced coach 5 years older than me. He understood well specifics of working with mature clients with health challenges. Together we built a training plan which was challenging but at the same time helped me to avoid injuries and overtraining.


Step 3: Start gradually


If you haven't exercised in a while, start slowly with lowering blood pressure exercises to prevent injuries. Begin with 15-30 minutes of exercise which you really like, such as walking in nature. Gradually increase the duration and pace, i.e. move from walking to slow jogging.


Most likely over few weeks you will observe that your blood pressure is getting lower. Sometimes moderate-level aerobic activities, such as brisk walking for 30 minutes a day, may be enough to decrease medications.


Exercise itself can reduce blood pressure readings by as much as 5-15 mmHg. Update your doctor regularly on the progress you make with exercise for high blood pressure so she could adjust your medications accordingly.


As my blood pressure improved, I gradually started to run faster and longer. In less than 12 months after being diagnosed with hypertension my blood pressure returned to normal levels. After another 9 months, at the age of 50, I completed my first marathon.


Step 4: Combine aerobic, HIIT, strength and stretching exercises


Aerobic exercises (running, cycling, swimming) causes the heart to beat faster and hence the make our CVD system more resilient. It is vital for lowering blood pressure.


Resistance training (or weight training) is great for boosting metabolic rate, reducing body fat, and increasing muscle mass. This means they are also great exercises for lower blood pressure. As we age, our bodies naturally lose muscle mass and the only way to slow down this process is to do resistance training.


Stretching exercises are also critically important as they keep our joints in good shape and help prevent injuries while running, cycling or exercising with weights.


Finally, add short HIIT exercises to your routine. HIIT exercises increase our cardio fitness, as measured by VO2max, as they put our bodies temporarily under more stress. Research shows, that low VO2max translates into high risk of hypertension [2]. Scientific research also shows, that higher VO2max is associated with slower ageing.

BreathNow includes a simple VO2max step test  from Cambridge University

Our blood pressure app BreathNow includes short HIIT exercises which are easy to follow. The app includes also a simple V02max step test which can be performed at home in 5 minutes. What a great way to know if you are making progress!


Step 5: Make Exercise An Everyday Habit


Modify your routine to match your daily and weekly schedule. The science of psychology suggests that we have a higher chance of making an exercise a habit if it either precedes or follows an already established routine. If a morning run before working hours seems too challenging, try to run after work. This is exactly what I did, and it worked nicely!


Build some simple rules into your day, i.e. do a push-up every time when you pass a kitchen. That’s why it is important to have some space in your home where you can lay out a yoga mat and several weights. Build some simple rules into your day, i.e. do a push-up every time when you pass a kitchen. Or do 5 yoga stretches after taking kids to school.


IMPORTANT: Be Safe.

Know your limitations! When an exercise hurts, stop! If you experience dizziness or discomfort in your chest or arms, stop! Update your doctor regularly on your progress and ask for advice for exercise intensity while exercising to lower blood pressure.

Beyond Exercise: Eat Healthy

The Mediterranean diet has been shown to lower systolic blood pressure (the top number in a blood pressure reading).


Beyond Exercise: Limit Alcohol Consumption

The US Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure sets the limit to no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women.


Summary

Aerobic exercises (i.e. walking) and HIIT are scientifically proven to lower blood pressure. Try our 3in1 Program in BreathNow app to lower blood pressure with breathing, walking and short HIIT exercises. It is built on my personal experience of fixing high blood pressure without medications. Discuss with your doctor how to integrate it into your overall treatment plan.


REFERENCES





36 views

Recent Posts

See All

Comments


bottom of page