High blood pressure and You - Know your numbers?
Friday December 13, 2019
by Melissa Hansen, PT, DPT 

Do you know your numbers? Do you know what numbers are considered high? Nearly half of all Americans have high blood pressure and many don’t even know it!  Your blood pressure is considered high when the top number is between 130-139mmHg OR the bottom is between 80-89mmHg.  It is called Stage 1 Hypertension if either the top OR the bottom number are in those ranges. Stage 2 Hypertension is 140(or higher)/90 (or higher).  If either of your numbers are higher than 180/120 consult your physician immediately.  A normal blood pressure is the top number being less than 120 and the bottom number less than 80.

Your risk for hypertension increases with age, but there is hope because exercise can make a big difference.  Regular physical activity makes your heart stronger and a stronger heart can pump more blood with less effort.  If your heart is a more efficient pump, your blood pressure will decrease.

Becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure – the top number in a reading – by an average of 5 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mmHg).  This is the same amount as some medications.  For some people, exercise can reduce the need for medication.  As you age, exercise can keep your numbers from rising.  Regular exercise helps you maintain a healthy weight which is another important way to control blood pressure.   

It takes aerobic activity to control blood pressure, but you don’t need to spend hours every day to benefit. The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.  Mowing the lawn, raking leaves or even scrubbing the floor is considered exercise if it takes effort!  Other common forms of aerobic activity include climbing stairs, walking, jogging, bicycling and swimming.  Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week.  Remember it does not need to be all at once, short bouts of exercise throughout the day also count toward your 30 minutes, so park in a parking space farther away from the door to increase activity!

If you would like to try strength training exercises, make sure you have your doctor’s OK.  Some of these exercises may increase your blood pressure, especially if you hold your breath while contracting your muscles.  Strength training can have long term positive benefits to blood pressure, so it is a good thing to add to your exercise routine a couple of times per week.

Hypertension is very prominent in the US and is called the “silent killer” because there are no obvious symptoms. Remember, you can help control and prevent high blood pressure with regular exercise and activity.

If you have any questions or would like exercise recommendations feel free to contact us online or give us a call at 866-588-0230.