Lower your risk of high blood pressure: another reason to get active

Leading a healthy lifestyle can help control your high blood pressure, or decrease the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.

Lower your risk of high blood pressure: another reason to get active

Lower your risk of high blood pressure: another reason to get active

High blood pressure (hypertension) affects one in five Canadians .  Having high blood pressure increases the chances of having a heart attack, stroke and kidney failure.  Often called the ‘silent killer’, you can have high blood pressure and not show any symptoms.  With age, the risk of developing high blood pressure increases.

Blood pressure is the measure of pressure of the blood against the artery walls.  The top number (systolic) is the pressure when the heart contracts and blood is pushed out of the heart and into the arteries.  The bottom number (diastolic) is a measurement of the blood pressure when the heart relaxes.   Ideally, blood pressure should be less than 120/80 mm Hg at rest.  Blood pressure that is consistently above than 140/90 mm Hg at rest is considered high.  If you have diabetes, blood pressure above 130/80 mm Hg is considered high1.

Fortunately, leading a healthy lifestyle can help control your high blood pressure, or decrease the likelihood of developing high blood pressure.  Reducing dietary fat, and eating more fruit and vegetables can drop systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 8-14 points.  Limiting sodium and alcohol in the diet can further reduce blood pressure.

Exercise can also help control high blood pressure.  Daily exercise can lower systolic blood pressure by 4-9 points.  The exercise does not have to be strenuous to get results- regular light to moderate exercise has shown to positively affect blood pressure.  Exercise also helps to lose or maintain your body weight.  A 20 pound drop in weight (providing you are overweight to start) can drop you blood pressure 5-20 points2.

During exercise, the heart pumps harder, causing blood pressure to elevate.  Because of this effect, it is important to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise program.  Your doctor will also tell you how any medications you may be taking are affected by exercise.  For example, beta blockers will affect your heart rate response to exercise.  Lifestyle changes may decrease your need for medication.  However, it is imperative that you never stop taking your medication, or change your dosage without your doctor’s recommendation.

Once you have the go ahead from your doctor, it is best to slowly ease into an exercise program.  Start with low intensity exercises such as walking, or light swimming.  As your fitness level increases, you can slowly start working harder.  Every exercise session should start with a 5-10 minute warm-up to allow your heart rate to slowly increase, and end with a 5-10 minute cool down to let your heart return back to a resting state.

Strength training is another option for exercise.  Start with one set of 10-15 repetitions of each exercise.  Ensure that you don’t hold your breath during any exercise.  Seated and standing exercises are best as some floor exercises can temporarily increase your blood pressure.  A qualified fitness professional can create an exercise program to meet your needs.

Now is the time to start taking steps to lead a heart-healthy life.  You are never too young or too old to make positive lifestyle changes.  For more information on heart health, go to  www.heartandstroke.com or talk to your doctor.


Tanja Shaw is a Kinesiologist and personal trainer, specializing in weight loss, golf fitness, pre and postnatal fitness, and exercise therapy.  She owns Ascend Fitness Coaching, which offers personalized fitness training and consulting in the Chilliwack area.  If you have a health and fitness question, or have a suggestion for a column topic, e-mail Tanja at tanja@ascendfitnesscoaching.com.

Just Posted

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

These three kittens, seen here on Thursday, June 10, 2021, are just some of many up for adoption at the Chilliwack SPCA. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Find Me My Furever Home – Three kittens at the Chilliwack SPCA

Kittens were in ‘rough shape’ when they came into the Chilliwack SPCA, now ready for adoption

Jacqueline Pearce and Jean-Pierre Antonio received the BC Historical Federation Best Article Award on Saturday for their story about translating haiku written in the Tashme internment camp.
Article chronicling haiku in Japanese internment camp near Hope wins award

Tashme Haiku Club’s work was preserved and recently translated, authors write

Two-year-old Ivy McLeod laughs while playing with Lucky the puppy outside their Chilliwack home on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Chilliwack family finds ‘perfect’ puppy with limb difference for 2-year-old Ivy

Ivy has special bond with Lucky the puppy who was also born with limb difference

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Premier John Horgan speaks as provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, right, and health minister Adrian Dix look on during a press conference to update on the province’s fall pandemic preparedness plan during a press conference from the press theatre at Legislature in Victoria, Wednesday, Sept. 9, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. officials to provide details on Step 2 of COVID reopening plan Monday

Step 2 could allow for larger gatherings and a resumption of recreational travel

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A million-dollar ticket was sold to an individual in Vernon from the Lotto Max draw Friday, June 11, 2021. (Photo courtesy of BCLC)
Lottery ticket worth $1 million sold in Vernon

One lucky individual holds one of 20 tickets worth $1 million from Friday’s Lotto Max draw

“65 years, I’ve carried the stories in my mind and live it every day,” says Jack Kruger. (Athena Bonneau)
‘Maybe this time they will listen’: Survivor shares stories from B.C. residential school

Jack Kruger, living in Syilx territory, wasn’t surprised by news of 215 children’s remains found on the grounds of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School

A logging truck carries its load down the Elaho Valley near in Squamish, B.C. in this file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chuck Stoody
Squamish Nation calls for old-growth logging moratorium in its territory

The nation says 44% of old-growth forests in its 6,900-square kilometre territory are protected while the rest remain at risk

Most Read