More than a quarter of people in the UK have high blood pressure, according to the NHS. While the condition doesn’t have any obvious symptoms, it still poses a serious health problem as if left untreated it can lead to heart attacks and strokes. In many cases, high blood pressure can be lowered without taking medication, simply by making some lifestyle changes such as improving your diet and exercising more. But exercising doesn’t mean having to slave away for hours in the gym; simply ensuring you keep active can still have an impact on keeping blood pressure healthy.
According to Blood Pressure UK, even a simple activity like mowing the lawn can help to lower blood pressure when it is too high.
Mowing the lawn may not seem like a form of exercise, but it keeps you moving and is actually more of a workout than you might think.
Blood Pressure UK recommends aerobic activity as the best type of exercise to help the heart and blood pressure.
Aerobic activities are repetitive and rhythmic movements that use the large muscle groups of the body, such as those in the legs, shoulders and arms.
Walking and mowing the lawn are forms of aerobic activity, as are jogging, swimming and dancing.
Other forms of gardening, such as digging, are also considered as an aerobic activity and can help to keep you active.
“This exercise [gardening] naturally helps to lower blood pressure,” said Andy Baxter, gardening expert at Internet Gardener.
“Gardening in the hot sun, for a matter of hours, is definitely a tough bit of exercise, especially if you treat it so.
“Many keen gardeners will do warm ups and cool downs to fully prepare for a day gardening. After all, there’s a lot of lifting, bending, stretching, walking and digging involved.”
You might be worried that exercising will cause your blood pressure to rise further, but while it may cause it to rise briefly, it should return to normal quickly.
“Most people with high blood pressure should be able to increase their physical activity levels quite safely,” said Blood Pressure UK.
Some activities, however, are not recommended for people with high blood pressure as they can quickly raise blood pressure and put unwanted strain on the heart and blood vessels.
These include activities that are very intensive for short periods of time, such as sprinting and weight lifting.
“Different kinds of exercise and activity have different effects on your body,” said Blood Pressure UK.
“If you have high blood pressure, you should try to focus on activities that will help your heart and blood vessels. Aerobic activity is the type that helps your heart the most.”
If your blood pressure is very high, you should not start any new activity without consulting your doctor first.