Hypertension Is No Excuse Not to Exercise.

By Valerie Slaughter, Author “You Want to Do What!?”

You know you are to get more exercise but how do you accomplish that if you have hypertension? Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects nearly 50 million Americans and is often referred to as the “silent killer” because it doesn’t have any specific symptoms. In fact, unless you have regular physical exams you would not even know you had it.

As with any health condition, or if you have not exercised for a long while, your doctor’s approval should be obtained before starting an exercise program.

The key to a successful exercise program is consistency. To be consistent it is important to choose an exercise that you enjoy. Start out slowly and gradually increase frequency and duration.

Walking, swimming, cycling and low-impact aerobics, or endurance activities, should be the core of you exercise program. Do not perform exercises that include an intense isometric component as this can cause extreme and adverse fluctuations in blood pressure.

Start out with three sessions per week with a duration of ten to fifteen minutes at a time. As your fitness level increases, add five minutes more to your workout with your ultimate goal to reach 30-60 minutes at a time.

Once your aerobic condition improves you can add low resistance, high repetition weight training. It is important to remember to never hold your breath during any weight lifting as this will result in large fluctuations in your blood pressure and even increase the potential of you passing out or, worse, result in a life threatening event such as abnormal heart rhythms.

Not into lifting weights? That’s o.k. You can use resistance bands to accomplish nearly the same result. In ten to twenty minutes you can easily get a whole-body workout. Not only that, but they can be done in the privacy of your own home.

The exercises are performed slowly and in a controlled manner while using a relaxed grip. Here are some examples of a resistance band workout:

Chest Press:  Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft, posture erect and abdominals tight. Grasp the ends of the band in both hands and place behind your back, under the arms, at chest level. Bend and raise your elbows to chest level. Keeping your wrists firm and palms parallel with the floor, extend your arms straight in front of the body; do not lock out the elbows. Return to starting position and repeat – 20 times.

Squat:  Stand with your feet approximately shoulder-width apart. Place the band under the arches of both feet, holding the ends comfortably in each hand. Look at a point slightly higher than your head and contract your abdominals to maintain proper posture (keep breathing though). Bend your knees until your upper legs are just above parallel in relation to the floor. Keep your heels down, your body weight over the ankles and your abdominals tight with your low back in a natural arch. Make sure you can see your toes as you bend your knees. Return to starting position and repeat 20 times.

Hamstring Curl: Stand behind a chair, placing one or both hands on the chair for balance. Step both feet inside the loop of your band and position the band around your ankles. With good posture and contracted abdominals, shit your body weight on to one leg. Keep your supporting leg softly bent at the knee through the exercise. With your knees aligned and foot flexed, contract the hamstring and bend your “free” leg ninety degrees toward the buttocks. Slowly return to starting position and repeat 20 times. Change legs and repeat 20 times.

Lat Pulldown:  Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, knees soft and abdominal tight. Grasp the band so hands are slightly wider than shoulder-width apart. Lift you arms just above your head, palms facing front; look straight ahead. Extend arms laterally at shoulder height with firm wrists and slightly bent elbows. Pull your should blades back and together and expand the chest. Return to starting position and repeat 20 times.

These are just a few examples that can be done with resistance bands. As you improve you may need to graduate to a band with greater resistance.

If you decide to use regular weights remember never to hold your breath and to use light weights with high repetitions.

If you are regularly active for the long-term you will not only lower your blood pressure, but lose weight also. Most people will see a drop in their blood within the first ten weeks after increasing the amount of activity they do.  You can too!