So you’ve got hypertension—can you just do any workout?
Aging isn’t kind to all of us. There’s a reason why they say youth is wasted on the young as aging comes with a lot of unfair deterioration. It creeps up on us just when we think we’re still in some sort of physical prime.
A few months ago I tried out one of those body analysis machines you usually see in drugstores. I had gained mass over the holidays and with it, the unavoidable body fat; I hadn’t yet started on the cut I’m currently on.
Most of the results were expected, except there was one thing that stood out to me: The blood pressure numbers indicated I was borderline hypertensive. What this meant was I wasn’t at full-blown hypertension territory yet, but I was teetering on the edge. Now I’m down seven kilos since I was at my heaviest, and while I haven’t checked yet, I should be doing a little better.
If you’re a sedentary person, the best way to start exercising is to start now and start small
Another story: A pro wrestler friend of mine who was on the heavy side got diagnosed with hypertension—and he had just arrived in his 30s. While he was already doing a lot of physical activity with pro wrestling, he had still been hit by high blood pressure. As a result, his doctor forbade him from lifting too heavy as the strain would get his heart rate going way too fast. He had lost weight since then, but only through lighter lifting and a greater emphasis on aerobic exercises.
As May is National Hypertension Awareness Month, it’s always good to know what to do to beat this condition—it’s never too late to fight it. So for those of us who are at risk of or already have hypertension, here are important things to remember when it comes to working out:
If you’re a sedentary person, the best way to start exercising is to start now and start small. If you’ve got no exercise experience at all, go for a walk. Be active for at least 30 minutes a day, five days a week. If you do actually exercise, do it more, push it a little harder. Basically, find ways to be more active in your daily life. But not too hard, as we’ll talk about in the next part.
Don’t overdo it
When you exercise, a relaxed pace is where it’s at. This is because the strain of exercise naturally brings up your blood pressure and raising it when it’s already elevated can be disastrous.
Avoid pumping your heart up too fast with heavy weights—specifically, the strength type of workout plan where you lift weights you can do for one to three reps to build your strength. Don’t go all out with fast-paced exercises and sports, too; no full sprints or all-out pace-pushing biking and the like. You can go light in the middle ground, which brings us to the next item.
When you exercise, a relaxed pace is where it’s at. This is because the strain of exercise naturally brings up your blood pressure and raising it when it’s already elevated can be disastrous
It’s best to stay in Zone 2
This is the middle ground you should aim for. As mentioned previously, Zone 2 is arguably the most helpful way to work out. You can ask an exercise specialist who knows how to test your body (like our columnist Don Velasco) to figure out where that is, or you can try to gauge it yourself by finding out at which intensity you can push it while still being able to hold a conversation. When you find that, stay there for a fighting chance at good health and a longer life.