Exercise: “The Cure” Part 2- Exercise and Hypertension

by Dr Makini McGuire-Brown

Sensible Talk!

This is part 2 of our Exercise: “The Cure” series in which we try to emphasise how important it is to exercise and how the positive effects of exercise are widespread particularly with respect to the benefits it offers in controlling and “curing” lifestyle diseases. In part 1 we did a general overview of the contribution of exercise to lifestyle diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease. Today, we do the great benefits of exercise in hypertension or more casually known as high blood pressure.

Hypertension is caused by a number of factors including things that you can’t change like your genes however, it is considered a lifestyle disease because there are so many things that you can change about your lifestyle that can prevent, treat and “cure” hypertension. I say “cure” because sometimes it’s not that the hypertension goes away it’s just that it is better controlled. There are instances however when people are able to come off of medication, continue the lifestyle changes and never have to take medication again. A big part of the lifestyle change to prevent and treat hypertension is regular exercise.

So how does exercise help hypertension? Most people understand that being overweight or obese contributes to high blood pressure and therefore exercising leads to weight loss thereby helping improve hypertension. This is all true. Most people who are overweight or have hypertension exercise to lose weight and there’s nothing wrong with this objective. However many are discouraged when after a few months they see no weight loss and often they stop exercising or put much less effort into it.

But did you know that the benefits of exercise in hypertension go beyond weight loss? Even without losing weight, exercise lowers your blood pressure! This should be encouraging! Let’s not forget that hypertension leads to stroke, heart attack and death so anything that you can do to reduce your blood pressure is a good thing!

Exercise in the right amount and the right type (which we’ll address in another article) lowers the blood pressure in two ways. Firstly, your heart is essentially a strong muscle. Therefore just like exercise makes your other muscles like those in your arms and legs stronger, it does the same for your heart. A stronger heart means less effort (pressure) is needed to pump out the same amount of blood therefore a lower blood pressure. Secondly, the arteries through which the blood has to travel become healthier. Exercise helps to decrease the clogging in arteries and improve their compliance, that is, how easily they receive the blood coming through them. These therefore improve how easily blood can pass through the arteries, thereby reducing blood pressure.

All this bring us to one conclusion! Get up and exercise! Read the rest of our Exercise: “The Cure” series here. Next up, Exercise and Diabetes, coming soon.

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Published by Dr. Makini McGuire-Brown

God-Lover, Mother, Wife, Physician, MBA, Language-Lover, Arts-Lover, Happy Caribbean Girl!

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