High blood pressure is a condition where the pressure inside a person’s arteries is higher than it should be. The condition affects one in adults in the UK, but can be difficult to spot because symptoms are rarely noticeable. The best way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have your reading regularly checked, wither by your GP, local pharmacist or using a blood pressure monitor at home. There are changes you can may to live more healthily and reduce blood pressure – one of these being exercise. But which exercises have been proven best?
A wide range of exercises have been proven effective at lowering blood pressure, including aerobic exercise, moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity, resistance training, high intensity interval training (HIIT) and Tai Chi.
In a 2013 study, sedentary older adults who did aerobic exercise training lowered their blood pressure by an average of 3.9 percent systolic and 4.5 percent diastolic.
Researchers have explained as you regularly increase your heart and breathing rates, over time your heart gets stronger and paps with less effort.
This puts less pressure on the arteries and lowers your blood pressure.
Moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity
A 2013 report by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association advised moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity for 40-minute sessions, three to four times per week.
Moderate to vigorous intensity physical activity can involve using the stairs, gardening, going for a bike ride or playing a team sport.
Resistance training and HIIT
A 2014 review that looked at exercise and its effect at lowering blood pressure found many combinations of exercise can lower blood pressure.
As well as aerobic exercise, it found resistance training and HIIT could lower blood pressure.
Short bouts of exercise throughout the day or walking 10,000 steps a day were also found to be effective.
Tai Chi, which is also an example of moderate exercise, has been shown to have blood pressure lowering results.
Tai Chi is a Chinese martial art practiced for both its defence training, its health benefits and meditation.
A 2017 review on the effects of tai chi and high blood pressure showed an overall average of a 15.6mmHg drop in systolic blood pressure and a 10.7mmHg drop in diastolic blood pressure, compared to people who didn’t exercise at all.
Blood pressure is recorded with two numbers – the systolic pressure and the diastolic pressure.
The systolic pressure (the higher number) is the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body.
The diastolic pressure (lower number) is the resistance to the blood flow in the blood vessels.