Borderline Hypertension – Can Exercise Help Me?

I’m 54, somewhat overweight and was recently told by my doctor that I am borderline hypertensive – something many African American men and women apparently suffer from. I’ve read that exercise can help me with my blood pressure problem. I’ve never exercised in my life! How do I get started?

First I am going to say that you need to clear ANY increase in physical activity with your doctor. He or she should advise you on the types and duration of any beginning exercise program due to the fact that hypertension can increase one’s risk for heart failure.

As a matter of fact, a study I read concluded that African American women who are overweight and have high blood pressure are at greater risk than any other group for developing heart failure. The study, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, shows that while hypertension was the main cause of heart failure for 40% of African Americans, it was the cause of heart failure in just 7% of non-African Americans. So please take heed to my advice to discuss this situation with your physician.

Our blood pressure does tend to increase as we age, and is affected by such things as diet and weight. But unlike other potentially deadly diseases, hypertension, often called the “silent killer,” in the press, frequently has few outward symptoms.

However, research conclusively proves that physically active men and women have lower average blood pressures and are diagnosed less frequently with hypertension than their sedentary counterparts. In other words, to prevent or control your blood pressure, get up off the couch and get moving!

Medications can lower the heart rate even during exercise, and thus those suffering from hypertension should avoid heavy resistance over a long period of time, isometric exercises which might require you to hold your breath, and highly competitive situations involving vigorous exercise (which has a tendency to INCREASE blood pressure).. Therefore, we don’t usually incorporate weight training in a program with our hypertensive patients. Those with hypertension are prone to sudden drops in blood pressure following exercise. This can cause fainting, so gradual cool downs are very important.

And be sure to use a home BP monitor to check your pressure both before and after exercise. It’s probably a good idea to check it DURING your early exercise programs as well so you can stop exercising if it climbs too high.

Studies done in exercise labs report that low intensity walking and cycling programs do very well in reducing blood pressure in mildly hypertensive persons. Other mind-body and relaxation exercise programs like yoga, Tai Chi and Qi Gong, dance therapy, water or chair aerobics, and movement therapy have all been reported to improve blood pressure status to varying degrees, independent of medication.

Try The Seated Physioball Woodchop!

How to do the physioball woodchop exercise

Not every woman wants to be skinny, but every woman wants to feel strong, toned and sexy!

The Thick Chicks Home Workout Program is designed to reduce fat stores, tone and reshape the figures of curvy women that want to stay that way. The carefully selected and increasingly more challenging exercise routines take a novice exerciser from being a complete couch potato to a woman doing some pretty impressive moves.

As you move forward through this book, you will drop inches as fluffy fat is reduced and firmed with lean muscle. Jiggly thighs will gain a new tautness; droopy buttocks will lift and become more shapely. Week by week you’ll be thrilled to see back fat and bra bulges disappearing as well.

This exercise is from the Thick Chicks Foundational Fitness routine, the first of six complete body weight, ball and dumbbell exercise routines in the book. The Seated PhysioBall Woodchop establishes a base foundation of core strength, trains balance, and opens up the chest and shoulder girdle while toning the abdominal muscles and the muscles along the sides of the waist.

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Love Handles Be Gone:
The Physioball Seated Woodchops with Hands

The obliques are small abdominal muscles along the sides of your waist. When they are weak, you’ll see “love handles” and “muffin tops.”

Sit on ball with your feet wider than shoulder-width apart, holding a dumbbell with both hands. Your arms should be reaching up over your right shoulder. Most of your weight should now be felt on the right side of your body.

Draw in your abdominals and sit upright on the ball. Elongate your spine.

Keeping your chest high and your arms straight, rotate your torso at the ribcage.

Shift your weight onto your left side as you move your hands slowly down to the outside of your left knee, while looking straight ahead. Return to start position and repeat all reps on that side, then switch to other side.

Hold a small dumbbell between your palms for more of a challenge.

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