Exercise recommendations for hypertension include both resistance and aerobic movements. Resistance training should encompass compound movements (more than one joint moves in the range of motion) and address the chest, back, legs, shoulders and abs. It is not necessary to work out the arms as these will be exercised during the “compound” movements of the other body parts. Your routine would look something like this: Pick a compound chest exercise such as a barbell or dumbbell press and execute 4 sets, performing 8, 12, 15 and 8 reps in consecutive sets. Decrease the weight by 20% on each set as you increase the reps and then on the last set of 8 reps, go back to your original weight. So it may look like this: 8 reps at 50 lbs, 12 reps at 40 lbs, 15 reps at 32 lbs and finally 8 reps at 50 lbs. Next do the same for a back exercise such as back rows or lat pulldowns or pull ups. Then address the legs with squats or lunges, and for the shoulders choose between standing or sitting overhead presses. For abdominals, choose an exercise such as stability ball sit ups or a plank and execute without weight. You can perform these in a circuit going from one to the other on each set of reps, or as stand alone exercises completing each body part before moving on to the next. The aerobic part of your program should be high intensity interval training. If you are a beginner, walk for 90 seconds and run as fast as you can for 30 seconds and repeat these intervals 10 times for a total of 20 minutes. If you are more experienced, adjust your interval speed accordingly. Interval training such as this is very effective in lowering high blood pressure and insulin resistance. It is also more effective and healthy than long distance running for increasing lean body mass and decreasing body fat. If you want details on this program, contact me and I will be happy to oblige.
We know that nutrients play a role in the stabilization of blood pressure. The nutrient interacts at the cellular level with a gene which in turn results in one of two outcomes. The beneficial outcome lowers lipids, lowers glucose, lowers blood pressure, reduces cancer risk and reduces cardiovascular risk. The detrimental outcome increases all of these parameters. What determines the outcome? Why, the quality of the nutrients or foods that you intake, of course. Highly refined carbohydrates, trans fats and too many saturated fats will all lead to the detrimental outcomes. Sodium restriction does help high risk patients. The average US intake per person of Sodium is 5000mg/day! The minimal requirement is only 500mg/day! The increase in sodium intake has lead to increased rates of hypertension, cardiovascular disease, death from myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure and increased platelet function such as clotting. Decreased sodium intake reverses these trends and the magnitude of blood pressure reduction is directly proportional to the decrease in sodium intake. The average potassium in the US diet is 45 meq/day. This makes the potassium:sodium ratio less than 1:2 in most Americans. The normal potassium intake should be 650meq/day, making the potassium:sodium ratio greater than 5:1. High potassium intake lowers blood pressure, decreases stroke, cardiac arrhythmia, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes! To get started, you should reduce sodium intake to about 2300mg/day (half of the average intake) and increase potassium intake to 100 mmoles/day. This will give a potassium:sodium ratio of 1:1, which is infinitely better than the average 5:1 or greater!
Magnesium, Zinc and protein have all been shown to have blood pressure lowering effects. Both whey and soy protein are effective in this regard. Omega-3-Fatty Acids also have blood pressure lowering effects, are anti-inflammatory and lower the risk of cardiovascular disease and all cause mortality. My recommendations for my patients are 2 grams of Omega-3’s per day to maximize these effects.
In the last blog on hypertension, I will summarize other nutrient effects on hypertension. Thanks for stopping by and reading. Your comments are welcomed!