Craig Primack MD, FACP, FAAP, FOMA
The best way to treat blood pressure (BP) is weight loss. With the right amount of exercise, your weight and blood pressure will reduce.
The European Society of Cardiology created an algorithm to personalize exercise based on BP. This comprehensive approach for BP control is used in most medical weight loss programs.
Types of Blood Pressures
Hypertension: Blood pressure over 140/90
High-Normal: Blood pressure between 130-139/85-89
Normal: Blood Pressure less than 130/84
Studies have shown that aerobic exercise in those with hypertension should lower BP by 4.9-12mm Hg systolic and -3.4 to -5.8mm Hg diastolic.
How to Lower Blood Pressure with Exercise
The best way to reduce blood pressure with exercise is to integrate all three types of exercise: Aerobic Training (AT), Dynamic Resistance Training (RT), and Isometric Resistance Training. If you’re currently inactive, choosing any exercise is a great place to start.
Here’s a guideline for exercise to try based on your blood pressure levels:
Hypertension: aerobic training (AT) is a first-line exercise therapy and low to moderate-intensity resistance training (RT). Both dynamic and isometric RT as second-line therapy.
High-Normal Blood Pressure: Dynamic RT is an exercise that leads to greater BP reduction than aerobic training. Combining dynamic RT with AT may be preferable to dynamic RT alone in patients with a combination of cardiovascular risk factors.
Normal Blood Pressure: Isometric RT is the first-line intervention in individuals with a family history of hypertension. This is also recommended to those who are overweight or have obesity with currently normal BP. AT is also an option.
Examples of Aerobic Training Exercises
Aerobic training exercises increase your heart rate with constant and continuous movement.
- Walking, Jogging, or Running
- Skiing or Snowboarding
Examples of Dynamic Exercises
Dynamic exercises move the muscles through a specific range of motion.
- Bicep Curls
For each of these, start with 5 reps and increases over time. Aim for 5 sets of each.
Examples of Isometric Exercises
Isometric exercise is muscle flexion without active movement.
- Wall Sit
- Overhead Hold
- Glute Bridge
- Body V-Ups
For each of these start by holding for 15 seconds and increasing over time. Aim for 5 sets of each.
Track Your Progress
To control high blood pressure, it’s important to keep track of your readings. You can have your blood pressure checked weekly at a medical weight loss program or with your primary care doctor. Accountability and SMART goals are the best way to achieve lasting weight loss results.
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Source: New Guidance on Personalized Exercise for BP Control- Medscape 4-1-2021