In 2017-18, one in every 10 Australians reporting having high blood pressure, otherwise known as hypertension. Hypertension put simply, is an increase of forces in the artery walls. Both genetic and lifestyle factors can influence the risk of diagnosis. Here, we are going to discuss hypertension and how to start an exercise program.

You cannot change who you are, but these can increase your risk of high blood pressure:

  • A family history of blood pressure.
  • Age. Because as we age, our blood vessels (like our skin) lose some of their elastic properties.
  • Gender. Females are less likely to be diagnosed with hypertension (below the age of 64, once you’re above 65, the gender gap reduces).
  • Race. Australia’s first nation and Torres Strait Islander populations along with African Americans are at increased risk in comparison to Caucasian peoples.
  • Being diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease.

Some things that we can influence include:

  • Undertaking weekly physical activity, meeting the guidelines for your age and health factors – For most people, this is 30-minutes, 5 days of the week.
  • Dietary choices – reduce salt intake (these are often hidden in processed foods if you don’t think you have a high sodium diet).
  • Increased fat mass, having a BMI >25.
  • Increased alcohol intake.
  • You have a diagnosis of sleep apnoea, high cholesterol, or diabetes. If you are on medication for any of these conditions, they are still a factor.
  • Smoking tobacco.
  • Stress, here, we are talking about long-term, excessive stressors. This can be financial, emotional or those that lead to a negative change in sleep or daily movement.

We know exercise is a great way to manage hypertension. Unfortunately, positive changes in your blood pressure do not happen overnight but with sustained lifestyle changes. 

Okay, so how much exercise and what type?

30-minutes of exercise on five days of the week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, including two days of resistance exercise
30-minutes of exercise on three days of the week of vigorous-intensity exercise plus two days of resistance exercise.

What is “moderate-intensity”? 
A rating of 12-13 on a Borg RPE scale, this might be through walking, cycling, swimming, or dancing.

What is “vigorous-intensity”?
A rating of 14-16 on a Borg RPE scale. This can be undertaken via a range of movement methods, such as through HIIT (using weights, cardio or a mixture), running, competitive sport, boxing, or dancing.

Now, break down the resistance exercise sessions
Completed on non-consecutive days of the week. 8-10 exercises focusing on large muscle groups and movements.

Starting an exercise program after being recently diagnosed can be easily monitored by a professional if this is something of concern. Find a local AEP (Exercise Physiologist) to help kick off your journey to a healthier self!

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