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Physical Activity To Prevent High Blood Pressure

Physical Activity. Being physically active is one of the most important steps you can take to prevent or control high blood pressure. It also helps reduce your risk of heart disease. It doesn't take a lot of effort to become physically active.

Getting Started

Get started by doing 30 minutes of a moderate-level activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. Brisk walking, bicycling, and gardening are examples. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each.

For instance:

  • Use stairs instead of an elevator
  • get off a bus one or two stops early
  • park you car at the far end of the lot at work

If you already engage in 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity a day, you can get added benefits by doing more. Engage a moderate-level activity for a longer period each day or engage in a more vigorous activity.

Moderate-Level Physical Activities

Most people don't need to see a doctor before they start a moderate-level activity. You should check with your doctor first if you have heart trouble or have had a heart attack, if you are older and are not used to doing a moderate-level activity, if you have a family history of heart disease at an early age, or if you have any other serious health problem.

Common Chores
Sporting Activities
  • Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
  • Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
  • Gardening for 30-45 minutes
  • Wheeling self in wheelchair for 30-40 minutes
  • Pushing a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
  • Raking leaves for 30 minutes
  • Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
  • Stair walking for 15 minutes
  • Playing volleyball for 45-60 minutes
  • Playing touch football for 45 minutes
  • Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (1 mile in 15 minutes)
  • Shooting baskets (basketball) for 30 minutes
  • Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
  • Performing water aerobics for 30 minutes
  • Swimming laps for 20 minutes
  • Playing basketball for 15-20 minutes
  • Jumping rope for 15 minutes
  • Running 1½ miles in 15 minutes (1 mile in 10 minutes)

Walking is an easy and convenient way to start increaing your activity levels. Here's a sample program you can use to ease into a healthy active lifestyle:

Sample Walking Program

  Warm Up Activity Cool Down Total Time
WEEK 1
Session A Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 5 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 15 min.
Session B Repeat above pattern
Session C Repeat above pattern
Continue with at least three walking sessions during each week of the program.
WEEK 2 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 7 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 17 min.
WEEK 3 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 9 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 19 min.
WEEK 4 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 11 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 21 min.
WEEK 5 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 13 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 23 min.
WEEK 6 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 15 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 25 min.
WEEK 7 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 18 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 28 min.
WEEK 8 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 20 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 30 min.
WEEK 9 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 23 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 33 min.
WEEK 10 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 26 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 36 min.
WEEK 11 Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 28 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 38 min.
WEEK 12
AND BEYOND
Walk slowly 5 min. Then walk briskly 30 min. Then walk slowly 5 min. 40 min.

Tips to Stay Motivated with a Walking Plan

  • Ask other people to walk with you. Find a partner or a group. When you know someone else is waiting for you, it keeps you going
  • Wear comfortable shoes and good socks to help cushion your feet
  • Wear clothes that are right for the season. Try using layers of clothing in the cold weather to keep you warm, and cotton clothes in the summer to keep you cool
  • Drink plenty of water. It doesn't have to be that fancy bottled stuff — get your own container and keep it filled with plenty of regular water. Carry it with you if you can
  • Don't forget to stretch before you walk. Try to start off slowly
  • Be safe — pay attention to your surroundings
  • Walk in a safe place that has plenty of lights in the evening. Try walking around a local school's parking lot, or going to the mall
  • Try to walk at least three times a week. It may seem like a lot at first, but you will gradually build up
  • Try to think of your walk in three parts. Imagine a warm-up period at the beginning, challenge yourself with a brisk pace in the middle, and finally picture a cool-down. You can feel success when you finish each part

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This information is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice