Roughly one in two American adults has high blood pressure, a chronic issue that significantly raises the risk of heart attack and stroke. Regular physical activity is well known to help manage various chronic diseases and conditions, including hypertension. Despite this knowledge, a large majority of people lead relatively inactive lifestyles.
In keeping with the goal of providing the best internal medicine in Tarzana, California, Samuel I. Fink, MD, FACP, and our team want patients to know the importance of adopting a healthy, active lifestyle, especially if you have high blood pressure.
Physical inactivity raises the risk of hypertension
Many people spend most of their day doing sedentary activities. Whether it’s sitting at a desk at work, planted in your car, watching television, or using your phone, physical inactivity is harmful to your health. In fact, leading a sedentary lifestyle increases your risk for high blood pressure by up to 50%.
How a sedentary lifestyle affects heart health
Exercise contributes to good health in various ways. Physical activity dilates your blood vessels and helps keep your arteries soft and flexible. It also promotes healthy cholesterol levels and insulin sensitivity. Exercise also helps keep your heart strong, and when your heart is strong, it doesn’t have to work as hard, which lowers blood pressure.
A sedentary lifestyle contributes to artery hardening and plaque buildup in the arteries. When your arteries are stiff and narrow, your heart must work harder to circulate blood throughout the body, and this raises your blood pressure.
Exercise and short active breaks are key
People’s lifestyles aren’t as active as they were decades ago. Modern conveniences mean most people spend less time doing physical activities. Finding ways to be physically active is crucial for overall health.
The recommended 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week comes out to about 30 minutes of activity five days out of the week. Combining those 30 minutes of activity each day with short bouts of walking to break up long periods of being inactive can lower blood pressure.
This could look like taking short three-minute walk breaks twice an hour during your work day if you have an office job. If you can’t leave your desk for a while, try standing up from your chair and moving in place for three minutes to avoid prolonged sitting.
High blood pressure affects children, too
Adults aren’t the only ones who need to worry about higher blood pressure. Over 1 million children ages 12-19 have hypertension. Like adults, children are getting less exercise and eating more added sugar than in decades past.
Keeping children moving throughout the day with activities they enjoy can help prevent high blood pressure.
Keeping your heart healthy
A normal blood pressure is below 120/80. It’s important to work with a health care provider to bring your blood pressure within a normal range, and an overall healthy lifestyle is the best protection against chronic diseases, including hypertension.
Other lifestyle factors that lower blood pressure and protect your heart are keeping your cholesterol levels within a healthy range, eating a heart healthy diet, and managing stress.
It’s important to know your numbers. For a comprehensive evaluation, call our Tarzana office and a team member will assist you in scheduling a visit with Dr. Fink. You can also make an appointment request online via this website.