Exercise and Hypertension

Strength24_Exercise and HypertensionWhat is hypertension?

More commonly referred to as high blood pressure, hypertension is a chronic condition of elevated blood pressure in the arteries.  That means that the heart is working harder than it would in a healthy body to drive the circulatory system.  Treating hypertension, especially in the elderly, can significantly extend a person’s life. And, contrary to what some might think, exercise and hypertension are intricately connected.

Causes of hypertension

The most common cause of hypertension in children is kidney disease.  For others, though, a variety of factors may work alone or in concert to develop the condition.  Blood pressure rises with age in almost all societies, and the elderly are generally at the highest risk for becoming hypertensive.  It is believed that genetics can also play a role, but scientists are not yet clear on how the two are related.

Link Between Diet, Exercise and Hypertension

Diet, exercise, and other lifestyle characteristics also play a role.  Those who consume high amounts of salt and fat are at considerable risk.  Obesity and a lack of exercise also serve to raise blood pressure, as does alcohol consumption.  Stress is considered a minor contributor to the condition.  A variety of other factors, such as maternal smoking and a low birth weight, may also increase chances of people developing the condition later in life, but scientists are still unclear as to how they do so.

Preventing Hypertension

The most effective way to prevent hypertension is to maintain a healthy diet.  Severely limit your consumption of salt and fat.  Reducing alcohol consumption can also help, especially for heavy drinkers.

Regular Exercise and Hypertension

Those looking to take a more active approach to fending off high blood pressure may also want to develop a healthy exercise routine.  If that’s the case, there are some important things to keep in mind.

  1. Discuss a new exercise routine with your doctor.  There may be factors unique to your condition that would prevent you from engaging in certain types of activity, especially if you have been leading a sedentary lifestyle.
  2. Increase your activity level slowly.  Engaging in strenuous physical exertion after a long period of not doing so could be extremely dangerous due to the demands it would put on your circulatory system.  Slowly develop your exercise routine over time.
  3. Although you will certainly experience some soreness or shortness of breath when increasing your activity levels, pay careful attention to your body and heed its warning.  If your exercise starts to create sleeping problems or excess fatigue is preventing you from completing your other activities, you’re probably going too fast too soon.
  4. Consistency is the key to achieving results from physical activity.  It is generally recommended that people exercise three to five times a week for maximum benefits and recovery time.  While developed muscles may retain their condition from less frequent activity, cardiovascular fitness requires regular maintenance.
  5. For the elderly, going at a rate of between 40% and 60% capacity will yield maximum results.


Hypertension is a serious medical condition that should be prevented when possible and treated when necessary.  Although some contributing factors are beyond the individual’s control, everybody can take steps to reduce their risks for high blood pressure.  A healthy diet is an important first step. There are also many people who use regular exercise and hypertension becomes a thing of the past.

For further reading and additional helps, I suggest this book by Dr. Carolyn Dean The Magnesium Miracle.

About Valerie Springfield

Marketing is my profession. Health and wellness is my passion.