High blood pressure and exercise: yes or no?

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Can people with high blood pressure do some exercise?

The answer is yes, aerobic exercises in particular are recommended, including jogging, running, cycling, cross country skiing and a range of other activities that can be carried out both indoors and outdoors. “I suffer from hypertension which I am treating with medication. I am overweight and my cholesterol levels are a bit high. My doctor keeps telling me that, aside from a low fat diet, with little salt and less calories, I would greatly benefit from physical activity. I am, however, a little lazy.” Lazy, how often have we said this word? It’s time to get to work, because numerous clinical studies have shown how exercise can be a real ally for hypertensive subjects, able to lower both systolic and diastolic blood pressure values in a clinically relevant fashion and mortality too. Gianfranco Beltrami, professor of the course in Motor Sciences of the University of Parma underlines the importance of complementing pharmaceutical therapy with a correct diet, a controlled bodyweight and an adequate lifestyle. “Just like any type of medication” says the professor “even physical activity should be prescribed correctly, it shouldn’t be under-dosed, as it would be ineffective, and it shouldn’t be over-dosed, as it could have adverse side effects”. For this reason, a cardiac stress test is recommended before engaging in physical activity in order to highlight any symptoms connected to exercise. A hypertensive subject should be carrying out physical activity at least three times a week, engaging in aerobic physical activity indoors or outdoors of a minimum duration of 30 to 60 minutes a day at a significant intensity. Professor Beltrami also discourages training with very heavy weights, which might raise blood pressure, as well as exercises where the head is below the level of the heart. At this point all you need is a pair of adequate shoes and you are ready to start getting better.

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