Exercise and Blood Pressure
Exercise lowers blood pressure
Exercise can be more effective than hypertension drugs. A good session will get you an immediate 5-10 mmHg drop. This is referred to as Post Exercise Hypotension (PEH), and it can last up to 24 hours.
Exercise is generally recognised to have long-term blood pressure benefits, but it seems that most of those benefits are actually related to PEH. So it makes sense then that we should be trying to get the effects of PEH every day if we can.
What type of exercise and for how long? Aerobic exercise for 30 minutes on most days has been the usual advice, but recent studies have shown that HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) and resistance training can be just as effective if done right and if they're appropriate for you.
Resistance exercise will raise your blood pressure while you're exercising so your doctor may consider that, for you, it's not worth the risk. It has other benefits beyond PEH, however, so it should otherwise be part of your exercise regime. HIIT may also not be appropriate for you - it's best to ask your doctor if you're unsure.
So we should aim for more than 30 minutes of exercise on most, preferably all days of the week. Some resistance training (with weights or machines) can be part of two or three of those days. If it works for you, your daily exercise can also be split into multiple sessions – but none should be less than ten minutes.