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Should you exercise if you have high blood pressure?

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

can exercise help lower high blood pressure

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  • Exercise is one form of treatment to reduce high blood pressure and help prevent it from developing; inactivity is a risk factor for it. If you are inactive and have heart disease or another medical condition, check with your health care professional before starting a new exercise program
  • Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of your blood against the walls of your arteries. Primary, or essential, high blood pressure has no underlying cause, while secondary high blood pressure is related to another health condition
  • African-Americans are most vulnerable to high blood pressure; a study with 1,311 African-American participants found moderate to vigorous activity may help reduce the risk of high blood pressure in men and women in this population
  • One study found the combination of endurance and dynamic resistance training most effective in reducing systolic blood pressure. While exercise protects your heart, it is vital that you stop if you feel weak, dizzy or lightheaded, or experience pressure or pain in your chest, neck, arm, jaw or shoulder

Blood pressure is the measurement of the force of your blood as it pushes against the walls of your arteries. Your arteries carry blood from your heart through your body. Although blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, consistently elevated blood pressure may damage your arteries and heart.

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in men and women. In 2017 the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology released new blood pressure guidelines to address this. The guidelines state that blood pressure under 120/80 mm of mercury (mm Hg) is now normal, while 140/90 used to be considered normal. The new categories are:

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