Hypertension, or high blood pressure, is a big issue in the United States. Almost half—45%—of all Americans either have high blood pressure or are on medication to lower their blood pressure, according to the CDC. Hypertension leads to even worse heart issues down the line. But there’s a very simple way to lower your risk of hypertension: exercise regularly. Here’s how this works.
What is blood pressure exactly?
It’s the pumping of your heart that gets blood flowing through your blood vessels. Blood pressure is basically a measure of the force on your arteries as blood pumps through, which is a reflection of how hard your heart must work to pump blood throughout your body.
Why is high blood pressure, or hypertension, bad?
When the heart has to work harder to pump out blood on a daily basis, that becomes taxing on it and causes heart health to decline. Imagine you’re holding, say, a 10 lb. dumbbell and spend the whole day constantly lifting it up and down. This would be extremely taxing on your arm muscles and no matter how strong you are your muscles would be weakened and drained from this. Same thing with your heart.
How does exercise help prevent hypertension?
Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent or lower high blood pressure. But how so? Well, when you exercise, you are strengthening not just the visible muscles in your body, but also, your heart, which is also a muscle. Regular exercise means a stronger heart. A stronger heart means a more efficient heart. As explained above, blood pressure is all about how hard your heart has to work to pump blood throughout the body.
Regular cardio exercise is best. Think of it as an investment in your long term heart health. If you’re just starting an exercise regimen, expect about 1-3 months before you notice changes in your blood pressure.
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