Combat high blood pressure with sport

Arterial hypertension is a chronic ailment that results in an increase in blood pressure.

It is a disease with no clear symptoms and they often do not show up for years. It is a very common ailment all over the world, affecting over 20% of adults between the ages of 40 and 65 years, and almost 50% of people over 65. According to data from the Spanish Society of Hypertension – Spanish League to Combat Arterial Hypertension (SEH-LEHA), there are over 14 million people with hypertension in Spain. Of these, 9.5 million are not monitored and 4 million have not been diagnosed.

The data may be scary but we must remember that it is a disease that can be treated. So the first thing to do is heed your doctor’s recommendations. Otherwise, it could lead to serious complications, such as, a heart attack, haemorrhaging, or cerebral thrombosis, which can be avoided if the blood pressure is properly controlled.

At IVY HEALTH, we recommend you control your arterial pressure on a periodic basis. It is true that not everybody needs to take their blood pressure with the same frequency, as greater control is required where there are genetic risk factors involved.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Society of Hypertension recommend doing physical exercise, with an aim to reducing arterial pressure values. Effective training programmes are those including activities like walking, dancing, running, swimming and cycling, from 30 to 60 minutes a day and at least between 3 to 5 days a week. This type of activity helps bring blood pressure values in hypertensive people down to normal values.

What precautions should be taken?

Before starting a physical exercise programme, you should consult with your doctor. Depending on your blood pressure figures, they will recommend additional measures (nutritional and pharmacological) in order to help balance your blood pressure.

Arterial pressure rises during exercise, just like your heart rate, which is why the specialist may decide to first lower the blood pressure values before starting the sports programme. Following exercise, there is a very beneficial drop in arterial pressure.

If you do strength training, it is better not to do extensive isometric workouts, in other words, do not maintain muscle tension for a long period of time, as it could raise your blood pressure to dangerous levels.

hypertension and sport

Start by doing low intensity activity

Benefits of physical exercise for patients with Hypertension:

Doing physical exercise or sports has many benefits for hypertensive people, at any age.

Doing moderate physical exercise is highly recommendable. What’s more, it is part of the treatment of arterial hypertension due to the beneficial effects on arterial pressure and other cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, diabetes and hypercholesterolemia.

Taking up physical or sports activity during the initial hypertension stage can help delay drug treatment.

These benefits are very good, but the patient should consult with their doctor before deciding to take up a physical activity.

In the case of people over 40 with hypertension, physical activity must be controlled or supervised by the doctor. Your doctor can request complementary tests, such as, e.g., a stress electrocardiogram (stress ECG). With these data, they will be able to recommend the proper type of activity.

Recommendations for doing sports in the event of hypertension

Start by doing low intensity activity and in a progressive manner.

Do moderate physical exercise. You are recommended to do 4 – 5 sessions a week. Each session should last 30 minutes.

Before actually starting the activity, do the proper warm-up exercises for the type of activity. Take into account the following guidelines:

– Take about 10 min to “prepare” your muscles and body regardless of the activity you are going to do.
– Do not make an excessively high physical effort. Its best if you increase the intensity progressively.
– Include the activity’s technical movements.
– Stay hydrated during warm-up.
– Include dynamic and strength exercises (squats, strides, adductor opening, etc.) and joint mobility exercise to prevent injury.

Don’t exceed the limits: if in pain, lower the intensity or stop the activity.

Acknowledge your body’s physical capacity and don’t run risks.

When the session is over, so some stretching exercises and breathe properly at all times.

Drink a lot of water (you are recommended to drink between 1.5 and 2 litres a day)

Have a proper diet. You diet should suit the type and intensity of the physical activity. (A piece of advice: include potassium and fibre).

We can combat high blood pressure with light or moderate exercise. You should start little by little and gradually add other exercises, under medical supervision and with your doctor’s consent. It’s time you realised how important it is and got working. Choose a healthy lifestyle and don’t let hypertension condition your life. It’s worth it.