Exercise Programs for High Blood Pressure

High blood pressure, or hypertension, is the result of increased force of the blood produced by the heart and the size and condition of your arteries. Your blood pressure is considered high if your systolic pressure (the pressure created during a heart beat) is above 140 mmHg or the diastolic (pressure of blood when the heart is at rest) is above 90 mmHg. High blood pressure must be controlled because it increases your risk for heart failure, heart attack, stroke and kidney failure, according to Medline Plus. Your doctor may recommend exercise if you have been recently diagnosed with high blood pressure. Therefore, committing to regular exercise can effectively lower your risk of serious complications.


Regular exercise makes your heart stronger and able to pump blood with less effort. According to the Mayo Clinic, becoming active can reduce your blood pressure by five to 10 mmHg, which is comparable to some blood pressure medications. In addition, it doesn’t take intense training to appreciate these benefits. Simply walking for 20 to 30 minutes per day can reduce your blood pressure. However, to appreciate these benefits, avoid walking at a leisurely pace. Instead, make sure you are walking at a pace that causes you to sweat, which means your heart rate is increasing. Putting this strain on your heart will cause it to become stronger, which will result in a lower blood pressure if you are consistent.

Circuit Training

Circuit training is an aerobic workout that involves performing different exercises at a fast pace and with high reps. This type of exercises allows you to gain muscular strength, in addition to, gaining cardiovascular strength, according to the Mayo Clinic. Instead of lifting heavy weights at a slow pace, lighten your resistance to a point that you can perform 25 to 50 reps of a particular exercise at a faster pace. After performing one exercise, take a 30-second break and move on to the next exercise. Perform a circuit training workout for at least 30 minutes three times a week to lower your blood pressure. Include exercises that involve both your lower and upper body, such as squats, pushups, curls, shoulder presses, calf raises and lunges. Join a group exercise or hire a personal trainer if you are unfamiliar with circuit training.


Swimming is an effective exercise that can reduce your blood pressure, according to the Mayo Clinic. Swimming is also an alternative to walking if you are disabled or have weak or injured legs. Commit to swimming three to five times per week to strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure. If you are new to swimming, only swim in shallow water or in a pool that is supervised by a lifeguard. Remember, any physical activity that increases your heart and breathing rate can effectively reduce your high blood pressure if done consistently.

About this Author

Jacques Courseault is a fourth-year medical student who plans to practice physical medicine and rehabilitation. He is the fitness editor for Dr.Gourmet.com, founder and writer of Exercise Menu, and co-founder of Don’t Weight to Lose.