How Might Regular Cardiorespiratory Exercise Affect Hypertension?

How Might Regular Cardiorespiratory Exercise Affect Hypertension

Engaging in cardiorespiratory exercise is good for so much more than dropping pounds and leaning up. It can also have a significant effect on hypertension.

Defining Hypertension

Hypertension is the medical term for elevated blood pressure, and it is measured by millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). There are two key numbers which will indicate what kind of blood pressure you have—systolic pressure (top number) and diastolic pressure (bottom number).

An example of this would read 115/75 mm Hg, which is a healthy blood pressure reading.

What systolic pressure measure is the blood pressure in your arteries as your heart beats. This number indicates how hard your heart is working to move your blood through your body.

When it comes to diastolic pressure, this number is found by measuring the blood pressure in your arteries between heartbeats. This number can be used to assess heart disease risk factors, such as heart attacks and strokes.

By using these two numbers, doctors will classify your blood pressure into five basic categories:

  • Low blood pressure – Hypotension—also known as low blood pressure—is when your blood pressure reads 90/60 mm Hg or lower. These numbers are not as common, and generally, is not a problem.
  • Normal blood pressure – Generally, a healthy and normal blood pressure will be classified as below 120/80 mm Hg.
  • Elevated blood pressure – Begining to fall in the danger zone, elevated blood pressure will fall between 120-129 mm Hg systolic pressure with a reading below 80 mm Hg for the diastolic pressure. Intervention at this stage is key to prevent hypertension.
  • Stage 1 hypertension – The first stage of hypertension can be measured by either systolic pressure between 130-139 mm Hg or if you have diastolic pressure which measures between 80-89 mm Hg.
  • Stage 2 hypertension – Highest and most serious stage, those who have Stage 2 hypertension have a systolic blood pressure of 140 mm Hg or higher, or potentially have a diastolic blood pressure of 90 mm Hg or above.

blood pressure

You can also measure your blood pressure at home by using a simple blood pressure monitor. This tool can be important for those who have hypertension, as you can identify when you need to see a physician.

Now that you understand what hypertension is and how medical professionals classify it, it is important to know how cardiorespiratory exercise can affect hypertension.

How Cardiorespiratory Exercise Interacts With Hypertension

Physiologically speaking, performing cardiorespiratory exercises allows a person to interact directly with their hypertension. As cardiorespiratory exercises are aerobic in nature, the heart will pump faster to move more oxygen to the muscles. However, the faster beating will cause the blood pressure to rise.

For those who already struggle with unmanaged hypertension, it can be dangerous to raise your blood pressure with cardiorespiratory exercises.

Even in those who have normal or low blood pressure will have their blood pressure raised by cardiorespiratory exercises.

In past years, doctors would restrict patients with hypertension to perform only the lightest of exercises. However, this can backfire, as factors a lack of exercise, dietary lifestyle, and age are often part of why hypertension was able to develop.

More recent research has identified that when appropriate doctor supervision and medication is utilized, cardiorespiratory exercises is beneficial for those with hypertension.

By using an angiotensin receptor blocker—which stops the hormone that raises blood pressure—medication, your blood flow can be increased without your blood pressure becoming dangerously raised.

With the increased blood flow, your heart will become stronger and better able at managing your blood pressure without medical intervention. However, we do not recommend you go off your hypertension medication without clearance from your doctor.

Ideal Types Of Cardiorespiratory Exercise To Help Hypertension

cycling exercises

If you already struggle with hypertension, you should not embark on any course of exercise without consulting your doctor.

However, if you are prehypertensive with elevated blood pressure or are just looking to avoid a family history of hypertension, there are several ideal types of cardiorespiratory exercise you can do which can affect blood pressure.

  • Walking/running – Both walking and running have similar beneficial effects on hypertension, as they will cause your blood flow to increase and strengthen your heart. Naturally, running will cause a greater increase in blood pressure without medication, so it is safer for those who are prehypertensive or have normal blood pressure.
  • Endurance lifting – Heavy lifting with low reps isn’t the best cardiorespiratory exercise, but if you want to build some muscle, endurance lifting is a good option. With endurance lifting, you will lift a lower amount of weight for more repetitions. For example, if you are working your triceps, use a lower weight than your max so you can 3 sets of 10 reps each.
  • Cycling – For low-impact cardiorespiratory exercise, cycling is an excellent activity. It is often more comfortable to wear a chest strap heart rate monitor when cycling, which means you can more carefully target your ideal heart rate zone. This heart rate targeting will allow you to stay in your safe zone while enjoying the benefits of cardiorespiratory exercise.
  • Swimming – Potentially more gentle on the body than any other cardiorespiratory exercise you could engage in, swimming can be done to work out your whole body while increasing blood flow. Fast lap swimming may be a little too intense if you aren’t a regular swimmer, so you can also try water aerobics.

For those who are new to exercise and concerned about hypertension, it is recommended that you ease into cardiorespiratory exercises. There is a high chance of injury if you jump in too quickly.

To help you know how often you should exercise, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend 150 minutes of moderately intense exercise a week. Spread out over the course of a week, and that is just 30 minutes, 5 days a week.

Remember, cardiorespiratory exercise should only be one part of how you manage your hypertension. Be sure that your doctor signs off on any exercise plans you make so that you can stay safe and address your hypertension correctly.

Kevin JonesAuthor Bio: Kevin Jones
Kevin Jones has mastered a busy lifestyle with work and fitness combined with family life. He writes offering solutions for personal fitness and time management as well as keeping families fit together by utilizing activities and diet. You can read more of Kevin’s writings by connecting with him online; LinkedInTwitter

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