Evidence based medical wellness for active people from a doc who walks the walk

Exercise and High Blood Pressure: is it safe?


One in three Americans has high blood pressure.  You could be one of them, or your spouse/friend/co-worker is one of them.  Is the only thing they can do is pop a pill and throw away the salt shaker?

Not so fast there chief!  There is a third player in town… wait for it…exercise! 75% of  people with high blood pressure that exercise will lower their systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 11 points, and the diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure by 8 points. That’s pretty good! And it’s free, you don’t have to call you doctor for refills and there are no nasty side effects unless you count muscle soreness!  What’s not to like?

Yup, there it is …exercise is good for yet another disease!  (Probably because American’s aren’t exercising in the first place!)  There are also some pretty clear guidelines on how long, how often, what kind etc.

The American Heart Association gives these guidelines:

  • Get clearance from your physician prior to starting exercise program if you have high blood pressure. (Chances are they will be stunned, because so few of our patients want to exercise!)
  • Do aerobic exercise 30 minutes for 5 days a week (walking/running, swimming, cycling, dancing all count.  Riding a hover board does not!)
  • Intensity should be moderate.  (see my previous blog post on calculating exercise intensity using your heart rate.)
  • Strength training is good, too, but again clear with your doc ahead of time,

So, go do it.  Ya gotta move it, move it!

PS: I am deliberately not stating what guidelines to use for to determine what is high blood pressure.  Sadly, like much in medicine, it is controversial.  Your doctor can help you with that!

PS2: I am good to my word.  I have been bicycling daily at least 30 minutes since having my knee surgery.  Here I am with my feet up after finishing a session on the bike.

Walking the walk!

Walking the walk!


Author: PookieMD

I am a board certified internal medicine physician. I love medicine and seek to bring evidence based medicine to the fitness and wellness world.

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