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Exercise and Hypertension

A precursor to high blood pressure is prehypertension, or when blood pressure is slightly elevated. This condition is indicative that blood pressure could be in a person’s future if changes are not made to lifestyle behaviors and diet. While symptoms may not be very severe or noticeable, getting a diagnosis of prehypertension should encourage an individual to make changes to prevent high blood pressure in the future.
Symptoms of Prehypertension
People with prehypertension do not feel symptoms. A person may get a diagnosis based on slightly elevated blood pressure readings. Prehypertension is defined as blood pressure with a systolic pressure from 120 to 139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or a diastolic pressure from 80 to 89 mm Hg. It is important for individuals to get their blood pressure checked regularly. High blood pressure is known as the silent killer since many are unaware that they even have it.

High Blood Pressure Risk Factors
High blood pressure and prehypertension may develop over time. It could be related to certain illnesses or medications that a person is taking. In addition, people who have a family history, are overweight, do not engage in regular physical activity, have a diet high in sodium or salt, or smoke or drink alcohol in excess are at risk for prehypertension and high blood pressure. In addition, as people get older, their risk for hypertension increases.
What To Do
Getting diagnosed with prehypertension should be a wake-up call for the affected individual. Work with your doctor on changing behaviors that may be contributing to the progression of problems with blood pressure. If weight is an issue, discuss with your doctor a safe way of losing weight or work with a dietitian or nutritionist on a dietary plan. Develop a safe exercise plan and exercise regularly throughout the week. Smoking is unhealthy for many reasons, while drinking too much can contribute to different chronic illnesses, like high blood pressure.
Regular physical activity — at least 30 to 60 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). And it doesn’t take long to see a difference. If you haven’t been active, increasing your exercise level can lower your blood pressure within just a few weeks.
If you have prehypertension (systolic pressure between 120 and 139 or diastolic pressure between 80 and 89), exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.
Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program. Your doctor can help determine whether you need any exercise restrictions. Even moderate activity for 10 minutes at a time, such as walking and light strength training, can help.
But avoid being a “weekend warrior.” Trying to squeeze all your exercise in on the weekends to make up for weekday inactivity isn’t a good strategy. Those sudden bursts of activity could actually be risky.

Sources: Mayo Clinic and Livestrong.org

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