Modern lifestyles that are either too sedentary or too hectically busy to include healthy diets and exercise are the main contributors to the growing global incidence of high blood pressure. This has caused a rise in associated health conditions that include cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney problems. For decades, medication has generally been considered the best means of controlling blood pressure, but there is now ample scientific evidence to suggest that exercise can significantly reduce high blood pressure in at least 75% of sufferers.
What is Hypertension
Hypertension is a condition that, if left untreated, can dramatically increase the risk of stroke or heart attack, as well as the risk of arterial disease. Symptoms related to high blood pressure are not easily recognised by most people and the condition is often left undetected. This is one reason why regular physical exams are crucial, particularly as people age. Should an examination reveal markedly elevated blood pressure, medication will immediately be prescribed to get it under control. Many renowned experts including those at the American College of Sports Medicine now agree that once this has been achieved, increased physical activity can assist in its successful management.
What the Experts Say
In a recent article entitled, ‘Exercising Your Way to Lower Blood Pressure’, the American College of Sports Medicine also provides guidelines on the optimal frequency and duration of exercise programs. As health benefits last only as long as these programs are maintained, they firstly suggest that the choice of physical activity be one that has the most chance of holding a person’s long-term interest. Therefore, nature-lovers may prefer hiking rather than a gym environment. Whatever the nature of the program, the ultimate aim is to elevate the heart rate and breathing without leaving a person breathless or dizzy. They also suggest that a well-balanced program of physical activity should include both aerobic and strength training to promote cardiorespiratory, as well as muscular function and fitness. Studies undertaken by others seem to agree.
The American Heart Association recently analysed 93 trials all being of at least 4 weeks duration, which focused on the effects of various types of physical activity on resting blood pressure. Researchers involved in the analysis separated exercise types into 3 categories: Dynamic aerobic (such as jogging or cycling), dynamic resistance (as in weight lifting) and isometric resistance (such as pushing against an immovable force to sustain muscle contraction without altering muscle length). The analysis concluded that all 3 types of exercise had a significant effect on lowering both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive persons, as well as those who have not yet developed the condition. They also found differences in the overall benefits to men and women who already suffered from hypertension, with men apparently showing greater results from aerobic exercise than women. It was also suggested that the weight loss resulting from exercise programs could contribute to the lowering of blood pressure, with additional implications for the effect of diet on blood pressure.
How Does Exercise Lower Blood Pressure
Raising the heart rate also means increasing the force of the heart’s contractions, so that more blood is pumped with every beat. Although this has the effect of raising blood pressure, it also causes the blood vessels that supply blood and oxygen to the muscles to dilate, making conduction easier. Improved circulation assists with eliminating plaque build-up, as well as minimising any stress on arterial walls. Heart rate and blood pressure take only a few minutes to normalise after exercise and the fitter an individual becomes, the faster the heart will return to resting level. However, having a high BMI and the aging process can also have an effect on heart rate and blood pressure. Those who are serious about their health and fitness make full use of the modern technology that allows effective monitoring of the body’s responses during exercise, as well as the long-term effects of exercise on lean muscle mass, body fat and blood pressure.
The awareness that a high BMI plays a part in raised blood pressure allows those looking to lead a healthier lifestyle to set specific goals to achieve the ideal body composition. Accurately monitoring the effects of exercise on the replacement of body fat with lean muscle mass and the associated drop in blood pressure readings can be the greatest motivator for continuing with an exercise program. Devices that track progress over time and provide an accurate overview of health-related information make this easy to accomplish.
iHealth products are both CE & FDA certified and comply with rigorous US and European accuracy standards. iHealth HS6 Premium Body Composition Scales calculate BMI and visceral fat ratings, as well as accurately calculating the percentage of fat to lean mass and muscle mass. It will also calculate the calorific intake required for maintaining weight. A blood pressure monitor with software that allows users to track blood pressure trends over time will leave users in no doubt that exercise does have a positive effect on blood pressure and health in general.