Making exercise a habit can help lower your blood pressure. It also gives you more energy, and it's a great way to ease stress and feel better.
Check in with your doctor first if you're not already active now. They'll make sure you're ready for exercise. Since an active lifestyle is good for your blood pressure, your doctor will likely be all for it.
High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, affects African-Americans in unique ways:
African-Americans develop high blood pressure at younger ages than other groups in the U.S.
African-Americans are more likely to develop complications associated with high blood pressure. These problems include stroke, kidney disease, blindness, dementia, and heart disease.
Why is high blood pressure in African-Americans so common? If you are African-American, what can you do to avoid developing...
You can do any activity you like, and you don't need to go to a gym. As long as you're moving around and making your heart beat a little faster or breathing harder can work. That includes brisk walking, jogging, swimming, biking, lifting weights, or doing yard work.
To pick an activity, two good questions to ask yourself are:
What sounds like fun?
Would you rather exercise in a group, or on your own?
What Type of Exercise Is Best?
There are three basic types of exercise:
Cardiovascular, or aerobic, exercise can help lower your blood pressure and make your heart stronger. Examples include walking, jogging, jumping rope, bicycling (stationary or outdoor), cross-country skiing, skating, rowing, high- or low-impact aerobics, swimming, and water aerobics.
Strength training builds strong muscles that help you burn more calories throughout the day. It’s also good for your joints and bones.
Stretching makes you more flexible, helps you move better, and helps prevent injury.
How Often Should You Exercise?
Go for moderate activity, like brisk walking, at least 30 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. If you’re short on time, vigorous activity, like jogging, gives you the same benefit in 20 minutes, 3 to 4 days a week.
If you’re not active today, gradually work up to this amount of exercise. If it takes you a few weeks to get there, that’s absolutely fine.
First, warm up. A 5- to 10-minute warm-up helps your body get moving and helps prevent injury.
Next, step up the intensity. Don't overdo it -- you should still be able to talk to someone while you're exercising. But if you’re able to sing, step it up a bit to make sure you’re getting the most out of your exercise.
Lastly, cool down. When you're done exercising, don't stop suddenly. Just slow down for a few minutes. This is especially important for someone with high blood pressure.