Exercise Tips for Those With High Blood Pressure
What Should I Include in My Exercise Program?
Every exercise session should include a warm-up, conditioning phase, and a cool-down.
- Warm-up. This helps the body adjust slowly from rest to exercise. A warm-up reduces stress on your heart and muscles, slowly increases your breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. It also helps improve flexibility and reduce muscle soreness. The best warm-up includes stretching, range of motion activities, and the beginning of the activity at a low intensity level.
- Conditioning. This follows the warm-up. During the conditioning phase, the benefits of exercise are gained and calories are burned. Be sure to monitor the intensity of the activity by checking your heart rate. Don't overdo it.
- Cool-down. This is the last phase of an exercise session. It allows the body to gradually recover from the conditioning phase. Your heart rate and blood pressure will return to near resting values. Cool down does not mean to sit down! In fact, do not sit, stand still, or lie down right after exercise. This may cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded or have heart palpitations (fluttering in your chest). The best cool-down is to slowly decrease the intensity of an activity. You may also do some of the same stretching activities you did in the warm-up phase.
How Can I Avoid Overdoing It During Exercise?
Here are a few guidelines to keep in mind for exercise:
- Gradually increase an activity level, especially if you have not been exercising regularly.
- Wait at least an hour after eating a meal before exercising.
- Take time to include a five-minute warm-up before any aerobic activity and include a five- to 10-minute cool-down afterwards.
- Exercise at a steady pace. Keep a pace that allows you to still talk during the activity.
- Keep an exercise record.
How Can I Stick With Exercise?
- Have fun! Choose an activity that you enjoy. You'll be more likely to stick with an exercise program if you enjoy the activity. Here are some questions you can think about before choosing a routine:
- What physical activities do I enjoy?
- Do I prefer group or individual activities?
- What programs best fit my schedule?
- Do I have physical conditions that limit my choice of exercise?
- What goals do I have in mind? (For example, losing weight, strengthening muscles, or improving flexibility)
- Schedule exercise into your daily routine. Plan to exercise at the same time every day, such as in the mornings when you have more energy. Add a variety of exercises so that you do not get bored. If you exercise regularly, it will soon become part of your lifestyle.
- Find an exercise "buddy." This will help you stay motivated.
Also, exercise does not have to put a strain on your wallet. Avoid buying expensive equipment or health club memberships unless you are certain you will use them regularly.