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Controlling Hypertension by Maintaining a Healthy Weight

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Controlling Hypertension by Maintaining a Healthy Weigh

Maintaining a healthy weight can help keep your hypertension under control, and lower triglycerides and increase "good" cholesterol.

Medically reviewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH Print Email Weight and high blood pressure are very much connected. People with a body mass index (BMI) of 30.0 or greater are more likely to develop hypertension. The best way to avoid or manage hypertension is to stay fit and trim by eating a healthy, well-balanced diet and being physically active.

Some risk factors for high blood pressure — including age, race, and genetics — can’t be changed; however, factors like obesity and inactivity can be controlled with the right lifestyle choices, particularly exercise.

Putting the Pressure on High Blood Pressure

These numbers regarding hypertension and exercise speak for themselves:

Just 30 minutes of exercise can reduce your blood pressure reading by 5 to 7 points or millimeters (mm) of mercury.

30 minutes of aerobic exercise can lower blood pressure for about 20 hours afterwards.

A total reduction of 2 mm Hg reduces your chances of having a stroke by about 15 percent and of coronary artery disease by about 8 percent.

Even exercise done occasionally can help lower blood pressure.

Compound this reduction in blood pressure on a daily schedule, and a physically active person with hypertension may be able to control the condition.

In addition to improvements in blood pressure, you’ll gain these benefits as well:

Increased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL or "good" cholesterol) levels

Decreased triglyceride (a form of fat) level

Better-controlled blood sugar, or glucose By upping physical activity, as well as following other healthy lifestyle choices (like not smoking and reducing salt intake), you may reduce your need for blood pressure medication or at least the amount you have to take. People with hypertension who stay physically active also have much lower mortality rates than those with sedentary lifestyles.

Burning Calories – 150 at a Time

For a 150-pound person, doing these exercises will burn about 150 calories, a great start to getting into shape:

Walking a mile at a pace of 15 to 20 minutes per mile

Swimming laps for 20 minutes

Bicycling for 30 minutes

Running a mile at a pace of 10 minutes per mile

Climbing stairs for 15 minutes

Raking leaves for 30 minutes

Playing basketball for 15 to 30 minutes

Playing volleyball for 45 to 60 minutes

Gardening for 30 to 45 minutes

Jumping rope for 15 minutes

Dancing for 30 minutes

If you want to run a few miles every day or swim for long periods of time, speak with your doctor first. She may be able to suggest exercises and activities specifically geared toward your hypertension and individual health needs.

Remember: The more intense the workout, the less time required to burn calories. Be sure to choose an activity that you enjoy — it's much harder to stick with an exercise routine if you’re not really wild about what you're doing.

And always use common sense: If you are feeling pain, dizziness, major discomfort, or unease while working out, call your doctor immediately.

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