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I have high blood pressue but I want to get fit in 2009. My GP thinks this is a good idea, but is there any exercise should I avoid?

Jacqueline Walmsley says ...

First of all - well done for positive thoughts for your decision to exercise which is a natural remedy to lower blood pressure, first of all you should not do any exercse that is very intensisve for short periods of time, such as sprinting, weight lifting, curcuit training as these kinds of activities will quickly raise your blood pressure, and put unwanted strain on your heart and blood pressure.  Others actiivites to not very good for you are squash, skydiving and scuba diving.  Avoid activities that involve small muscle groups or require you to hold your breath (isometric - muscles contracting against an equal resistance, resulting in no movement).

Resistance exercise should be focused on more repetitions at lower resistance levels.  NB.  Anyone with a resting blood pressure of 200/105 or above should not participate!

Avoid Supported Plough (Supported Halasana), press ups, heavy weights, heavy lifting or digging - any exercise that causes chest pains or involves standing up quickly from the floor or any competitive sport.

  • DONT - Skip your warm up 10 minutes
  • DONT- Rush the activity/exercise.  Use proper technique.
  • DONT - OVERDO IT - only up to the point of fatique is typically enough - 12 reps
  • DONT - Work through pain - STOP!
  • DONT - Forget your shoes.

YOU WILL NEED longer warm ups, slow the progression to the main part of the workout, lower the intensity of the activity, use longer cool-down activities, look for the right environmental conditions; look out for signs of overexertion, exercise with others; be regualar with food, water, and prescribed medication, and use common sense in deciding to modify or stop an activity.

Try and choose activities which are close to your normal activities aerobic, combat classes, swimming, cycling, light digging in the garden, running, brisk walking and jogging are great.

Good luck...

Jacqueline Walmsley, Personal Trainer, Jacqueline Walmsley Fitness

Clare Wyness says ...

It really depends on how high your blood pressure is and if you have been prescribed any medication for your condition, High blood pressure is categorised as anything over 140/90.

Overall, the best form of exercise for you to undertake is rhythmic aerobic physical activity such as walking, jogging, cycling or use of a cross trainer in the gym. Exercise does not have to be of high intensity and you will substantially reduce your high blood pressure by working at approx 40 - 70 % of your maximum working heart rate for 20 minutes at least 5 days a week. You can work your maximum heart rate out roughly by subtracting your age from 220. If you invest in a heart monitor, available at sports shops and some gyms, you can keep an eye on how hard you are working.

If you are planning on working out in a gym, absolute no-nos are working out with weights above your head and doing situps on an incline bench. It's also important not to hold your breath but to keep breathing regular. Other than that, you are probably good to go ! Good luck for 2009.

Clare Wyness, Personal Trainer

Heather Gillam says ...

It's great that you're aiming to reduce your blood pressure this year, good on you! Exercise wise, avoid anything overhead as this can increase pressure in your body - also avoid exercises like the plank as they involve holding a braced stomach for a while, which can again increase your blood pressure during the exercise.

Research has shown that gentle walking is a great start to reducing your blood pressure -  working up to about 30 minutes a day is great. Once you've got into the walking you may want to consider hiring some help from a qualified Personal Trainer to take you to the next level, which will be important to maintain and increase the changes you have acheived initially. Please note though that a Trainer must be specially qualified to train you if you have high blood pressure, so do make sure yours is before you start.

Heather Gillam, Personal Trainer, Fit Biz Training

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