Exercise for High Blood Pressure
Non pharmacological interventions in the form of lifestyle modifications form an important part of management of high blood pressure. For pre-hypertension, currently they are the only intervention recommended. They are used as an adjunct therapy for the management of hypertension along with antihypertensive drugs. Regular exercise is one of the most important steps in lifestyle modifications for management of high blood pressure. Regular aerobic exercise has been clearly proven to play an important role in prevention of hypertension also. Exercises are also recommended in management of low blood pressure; thus regular exercise tends to normalize the blood pressure.
Exercise training results in reduction of blood pressure in nearly 3/4th of the people with high blood pressure. Research has found that on an average, regular exercise reduces systolic blood pressure by 11 mm Hg and diastolic blood pressure by 8 mm Hg. Relatively better response is observed in women as compared to men. Exact mechanism of blood pressure reduction by exercise is not fully known yet, but most likely it is through interaction of numerous mechanisms.
Previously there have been some controversies regarding effectiveness of exercise in resistant hypertension (defined as blood pressure above 140/90 mm Hg despite use of 3 antihypertensive drugs). However, recent research suggests that regular exercise is effective in such cases also.
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