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Hypertension is one of the leading causes of death in the world. For this reason, it must be prevented or controlled. Essential lifestyle changes like reducing the consumption of salt and saturated fat, limiting alcohol intake, and quitting smoking can help to control blood pressure levels. Also, of great importance in preventing and controlling blood pressure levels is, an appropriate amount of exercise.

Up to 60% of all individuals with hypertension are more than 20% overweight and an increase in body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference is associated with increased risk of developing conditions with high cardiovascular risk like hypertension, diabetes mellitus, heart attack, and many other diseases.

It is recommended that people living with hypertension and those with a high risk of having hypertension (especially those with strong family history), who are obese or overweight are required to reduce body mass index (BMI) to 20 to 25kg\m2 and waist circumference to<94cm in men and <80cm in women. In other words, this means you would have to lose weight and the most effective way to lose weight is by exercising and eating a balanced diet.

Research has shown that losing 5% of body weight can reduce blood pressure and blood glucose levels. Another research showed that exercising while eating a healthy diet can reduce your systolic blood pressure by 16.1mm\Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 9.9mm\Hg. This result was found in individuals who consistently ate a healthy diet and exercised for four months. We can conclude that to realize the benefits of exercising on one’s blood pressure, one must be consistent and dedicated to exercising.

It is recommended that you do aerobic exercises five to six times weekly, with some strength-building exercises as well to build your muscles. Aerobic exercises include brisk walking, skipping, jogging, swimming, dancing, and cycling. You can choose to do one or a variety of the listed exercises.

Different age groups and their recommended exercises

  • Children: 60 minutes or more of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day.
  • Adults: 150 to 300 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly (i.e. 30 to 60 minutes 5 times weekly) or vigorous exercise 75 to 150 minutes with muscle strength activities twice weekly.
  • Elderly persons: moderate intensity physical activity which includes balance training, aerobic activities, and muscle strengthening activities.
  • Adults with chronic conditions or disabilities who are able: will have to follow guidelines for aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities.
  • Pregnant and postpartum women: 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities weekly.

Exercise is essential in lowering blood pressure levels, but it also has numerous benefits for the individual’s general well-being. Some of these include:

  • Strengthening your muscles and bones.
  • Prevention of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack.
  • Prevent women from getting gestational diabetes and pregnancy-induced hypertension.
  • Prevention of mother and or child death.
  • Helps to maintain a healthy weight.
  • Enhances the growth and development of children.
  • Improves cognitive function and prevents dementia.
  • Help to prevent various types of cancer.

Although exercising is beneficial in lowering blood pressure, it may not be enough to lower your blood pressure to optimal levels. You must take your hypertension medications prescribed by a doctor and eat a healthy diet as well. These will collectively help to improve your blood pressure levels.

To learn more about hypertension and its risk factors, read more here

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