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Hypertension/High Blood Pressure Health Center

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Exercise and High Blood Pressure

How to move, for how long, and what workouts to avoid
By Jenn Horton
WebMD Feature

Keeping your blood pressure in check isn't just about cutting back on salt. It's also about moving more and committing to a more active life.

If you're new to exercise, you have a lot of options, whether it's hiking with your family, swimming at a local pool, joining a club sports team, trying yoga, or signing up for sessions with a personal trainer. Chances are, you'll find something that will help you get your blood pressure down and may even become your new favorite hobby.

Getting started may be simpler than you think.

It Doesn’t Take Much

If you’re a beginner, start with 10 to 15 minutes. Add 5-minute increments every 2 to 4 weeks. Try to add more time gradually until you reach 30 to 60 minutes a day, 3 to 5 days a week.

“People with lower levels of fitness should start with shorter durations and gradually increase the time,” says Cedric Bryant, PhD, chief science officer at the American Council on Exercise.

The American Heart Association and American Council on Exercise recommend at least 150 minutes a week of exercise. Oregon cardiologist James Beckerman says do what makes sense to you and what you can work into your schedule. “I personally recommend 30 minutes every day, “he says. “It’s easier to remember and less math to do.”

The Payoff

Aerobic exercise could shave five points off your systolic blood pressure (the first, or top, number in your blood pressure reading), and three points off your diastolic blood pressure (the second, or bottom, number).

Activities such as walking, swimming, cycling, and low-impact aerobics should be the core of your exercise program.

But you'll get the payoff doing anything that makes your heart beat a bit faster, whether you're hiking with your dog, walking on a treadmill, going out dancing next weekend, taking a Zumba class. Pick a bunch of things that will keep you interested.

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