Should I Exercise if I Have High Blood Pressure?

This is a question that concerns many people with heart disease. On the one hand, exercise strengthens the body. But on the other hand, can the heart handle the additional stress? This is a very important issue which will be addressed in this article.

exercising with hypertension

Sedentary Lifestyle – the main cause of heart disease

People that are inactive, do not participate in any active sports, do not go to the gym, and barely move at all, are at a very large risk of becoming fat. Unless you have a very fast metabolism, which can slow down as you age, you will eventually grow fat, unless you burn off those extra calories. And, as you might know, this is the main risk factor for heart disease, including hypertension, angina pectoris, and heart attack.

Having a waist-to-hip ratio of more than 0.9 for men and 0.85 for women is a sign of central obesity. Another method of diagnosing central obesity is waist-to-height ratio. If this ratio exceeds 0.5, the person has central obesity and is at a much greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome and atherosclerosis, which eventually lead to heart disease. If you fall into this category, you should start exercising as soon as possible to prevent permanent damage to your circulatory system. 

yes to sports

Is it OK for a person with hypertension to exercise?

Yes. The amount of exercise depends on the condition of the person; however, not exercising will only worsen the person’s condition. Here is a list of benefits regular exercise will provide:

  • Reduction of body fat
  • Strengthening of the cardiovascular system
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Improved circulation and oxygenation of the blood
  • Improved symptoms of congestive heart failure
  • Improved energy levels, which enable you to be more active without becoming too tired or losing your breath
  • Increased endurance
  • Improved strength and muscle tone
  • Improved join flexibility and balance
  • Stronger bones
  • Reduction of stress, anxiety, tension, and depression,
  • Improved self-esteem and self-image
  • Improved sleep
  • Makes you feel healthy and fit.

How do I start exercising?

Types of exercises


There are two major types of exercises, both of which are equally important:

  • Aerobic exercises are a group of exercises which involve using large muscle groups over a prolonged period of time. Aerobic exercises strengthen your heart and improve your body’s ability to transport oxygen. This is the best type of exercise for losing weight, which can help you lower your blood pressure and prevent other diseases associated with obesity.
  • Anaerobic exercises – are exercises which involve lifting large weights, with the number of repetitions per set usually being below 12-15. These exercises are very important for building muscle mass which, in turn, helps you to lose extra pounds more quickly. Additionally, these exercises increase your sensitivity to insulin and stimulate secretion of various hormones which help you shed extra pounds.

How do I figure out the right intensity for exercising?

Before you start, there is one thing you should purchase – a heart rate monitor watch. This tool is very useful for preventing overstraining your heart.

First, you have to calculate your maximum heart rate by using one of the formulas created by various research teams:

  • HRmax = 206 - (0.88 x age) – this is the optimal formula for women as shown by the research conducted by Gulati et al. (2010)
  • HRmax = 206.3 - (0.711 × Age) – research conducted by Londeree and Moeschberger (1982)
  • HRmax = 206.9 - (0.67 x age) - USA researchers, Jackson et al. (2007)
  • HRmax = 202 - (0.55 x age) - Male athletes and HRmax = 216 - (1.09 x age) - Female athletes - UK researchers, Whyte et al. (2008)

Next, aim to keep your pulse at 60-75% of your maximum heart rate. This will prevent you from overstraining yourself and losing strength too quickly, while also making sure that you are not going too slow and are actually burning some calories in the process. By following this rule, you’ll be able to determine out what exercises should you do.

It is also very important to note that the fat burning process starts only after 30-40 minutes of exercise. Thus, if you think that you can walk/jog for 20-30 minutes and lose all those extra pounds, you might be disappointed with the results.

What are some exercises that I can do?

nordic walking

Walking – is probably the best and most available type of exercise for people who have high blood pressure. Walking does not stress your jointslike running does, making it the number one choice for most people who are just starting to exercise.

Start out by walking slowly and increase the tempo until you reach the desired heart rate. An even better alternative is Nordic walking, since during Nordic walking you use a much larger number of muscles which increases the number of burned calories by more than 50%.

Do not try to save money on good Nordic walking sticks, since it’s important for them to be light and have good traction with the surface that you’re walking on.

What else should I know about exercising?

It is extremely important to always do a warm-up before exercising. Many people tend to skip over this part when they first start to exercise and then later really regret it.

By not warming-up before an exercise, even if the exercise doesn’t seem too strenuous, you can seriously damage your tendons and joints. And this might not happen all at once. The damage can accumulate over several weeks until your knee or an arm gives out.  Then you will have to stop exercising completely for at least one month in order for your joints to heal. If you continue to push through pain, you may actually cause permanent injury which can completely prevent you from properly exercising ever again.

Cool-down after an exercise is also important. If you choose to skip it, you won’t suffer any permanent injuries. Stopping suddenly after a strenuous exercise will only make you feel dizzy or light-headed, so it is not of great concern.


Exercising is very important for people with heart problems.  If you have high blood pressure associated with extra weight, by starting an exercise program you can actually completely regain your health.  It is advisable to continue exercising even if you have achieved your optimum weight. Modern humans spend very little time walking, much less exercising, which is why we have so many health problems our ancestors never even heard of. Exercising enriches your life and enables you to enjoy it to the fullest!





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