Hypertension affects 25% of the world’s population and is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disorders and other diseases.
Millions of people around the world suffer from high blood pressure; this increases their risk of developing cardiovascular diseases. The solution most medical professionals offer is to put their patients on a dose of blood-lowering medication.
If you are like most people and want to take a few pills as possible in life, then this article has some good news for you. As alluded to in this study seeks to examine the evidence regarding the acute effect of exercise on blood pressure (BP) using meta-analytic measures.
Can Aerobic Exercise Lower Blood Pressure As Effectively As Drugs?
1. Research is ongoing
Studies have shown that exercise can prove to be just as effective as medication when it comes to tackling high blood pressure.
Statistics obtained from the CDC(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) over 75 million Americans are dependent on blood pressure meds to control their high blood pressure.
Living with high blood pressure increases the patient’s risk of stroke and cardiovascular diseases, two of the leading causes of death in America.
$49 Billion is the estimated cost of High Blood Pressure to the American Taxpayer, a price that can, in most cases, be avoided with proper diet and exercise. These costs include medication, absence from work and healthcare.
Patients with high blood pressure are typically put on blood pressure or antihypertensive lowering treatment. That includes a prescription for specialist medication.
Most doctors will also encourage their patients to make lifestyle changes to manage their blood pressure better.
Studies have shown that exercise when taken in a structured fashion and regularly, does reduce high blood pressure levels. Here are some examples of practical exercises.
- Aerobic exercises, such as aerobic step, running, swimming, walking, or jogging.
- HIIT(High-intensity interval training) is useful, and this involves short intensive bursts of exercise
- Strength training and dynamic resistance
- Core strengthening exercise or isometric resistance, such as the plank
- Combining Aerobic and resistance exercises
2. More studies are needed
More comparative studies are needed to show how much more or less effective exercise is when compared to just taking antihypertensive medication. A current study published in the Journal of British Sports Medicine focused on only this problem and aimed to fill this gap in research.
They found that both medication and aerobic exercise have similar effects. As there was no data that compared the results of a structured exercise regime with that of the effects of taking blood pressure medication this study was an analysis of the findings of several different research projects that focused on one or other of these variables
3. Global research teams
The research team comprised of researchers from across the globe, including some from the London School of Political Science and Economics and the School of Medicine in Stanford, found that structured aerobic exercise helped lower the systolic blood pressure in participants.
This study compared the finding of over 194 clinical trials which focused on the effects on the systolic blood pressure of participants when they took antihypertensive drugs and compared this to the impact of structured exercise, 39,742 people participated in the study.
A team led by the Department of Health policy in Londons School of Political Science and Economics let by Dr. Huseyin Naci, analyzed several different sets of data from the trials.
4. Comparative studies
First, they compared the effects of all kinds of exercise on patients with high blood pressure and they also examined the impact of the most commonly prescribed antihypertensive drugs on the market.
They studied the effect of different levels of exercise intensity and different doses of the drugs.
The first part of the study was performed on people with what is considered normal or healthy blood pressure levels and then repeated the survey of people with high blood pressure only.
They found that antihypertensive drugs had a more significant effect than structured exercise on the general healthy population.
When they conducted the same study on participants with high blood pressure, they found that exercise was equally as effective at reducing blood pressure as the majority of blood-lowering medication.
Some recommendations from the studies:
The study recommended that people with high blood pressure would be better served combining cardio exercise and some resistance training with any medicines they have been prescribed.
Aerobic exercise is beneficial, and It should be noted that the researchers cautioned that this was a small-scale trial. More intensive studies are needed to try and replicate their results.
They do not advocate giving up your antihypertensive medication to replace it with an aerobic exercise regime completely. They note that escalating level of obesity across the world and leading to an epidemic level of High Blood Pressure, any exercise is better than none they say as people are driving more and more sedentary lives.
Exercise As A Drug-free Approach to Lowering High Blood Pressure
Here are some exercises that are recommended for people who have high blood pressure.
Of course, several studies have shown that regular exercise can be a drug-free approach to lowering high blood pressure. Researchers understand that for someone who may not have exercised in a long time, the thought of such a physical exertion can be quite intimidating. However, small changes in your daily routine can make a big difference.
1. Go swimming
Most people who suffer from High blood pressure have other physical issues to deal with too and low impact aerobic exercise is probably the best place to start.
A study in the Journal of Cardiology found that the over 60’s who swim have on average reduced their blood pressure by up to 10 points over 6 to 12 weeks.
2. Go for a walk
Many people who are overweight suffer from High Blood Pressure, and they also have a fear of gyms as they think these are placed for people with perfect bodies.
The best advice is to start walking simply. Start small and build up to a brisk walk.
A great goal to set yourself is the Couch to 5K challenge, and this is a fitness regime that will take you from sitting on your couch to running 5K within 3 to 6 months. Depending on several different factors
3. Get back on the bike
Cycling is a significant low impact, cardio exercise. This will allow you to work out for an hour or more very quickly as it takes a lot of the pressure off your joints.
It is also widespread for people who are tackling High Blood pressure to purchase a stationary exercise bike for their home. This can be very effective.
Now to our question again, “Does aerobic exercise lower blood pressure?”
I believe we can all agree to the benefit of aerobic exercise to our overall fitness, health, and well-being, not only its ability to lower blood pressure.
However, for quick wins – always “Monitor your progress”
In fact, the quickest and perhaps the only way to detect high blood pressure is to keep track of your blood pressure readings.
Monitoring and have your blood pressure checked consistently shouldn’t be underrated.
Ideally, a number of times every week, at each doctor’s visit, or use a home blood pressure monitor.
Do this and your life will never be the same.