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Using exercise to lower your blood pressure

Even small changes in the amount of exercise you take can bring big changes in your blood pressure. That’s because it makes your heart stronger, so it takes less effort to pump the blood around your body, and there’s less outward pressure on the blood vessels. In fact, taking up exercise can be just as effective as medication – and it also reduces your weight, making you less vulnerable to hypertension.

Monitoring your own blood pressure is a great way to give yourself a psychological boost as you take exercise. Many people find technology a big motivating factor, because it allows them to see long-term trends rather than living from day to day.

Don’t lose heart if you don’t see immediate results– it can take up to three months for your new lifestyle to take effect on your blood pressure. And remember, you’re in this for the long haul: if your blood pressure is to remain at a permanently healthy level, then so must the amount of physical activity you engage in. 

And don’t overdo the exercise, either. Start gently, perhaps by walking upstairs to your office instead of taking the lift, or getting off the bus a few stops early. If you have existing medical conditions, or you’re over 50, or you feel abnormal discomfort when you engage in more strenuous exercise, discuss this with your doctor.