Can I Safely Exercise with Hypertension?

Article written by Amanda Menard, LPN on March 2, 2015

Yes, Yes and Yes!

Not only can you safely exercise with hypertension, you NEED to exercise with hypertension. Exercise on a regular basis helps to keep us healthy overall. With regular physical activity, the heart becomes stronger, therefore, it takes less effort to pump which reduces force on the arteries and lowers blood pressure to healthier levels. For some individuals, regular exercise can reduce the need for blood pressure medication. Hypertension, or any form of heart and vascular disease, doesn’t have to hamper our lives. In fact, this diagnosis should act as a wake-up call to treat our bodies better and live a healthier life.

How Do I Begin?


First, if you haven’t been active for a long time, do not begin with a 60-minute swim followed by a 4-mile jog home from the pool! Check with your physician to make sure that there are no extenuating circumstances that would limit your activity. Then start slowly. Don’t forget to warm up before exercising as it can help reduce the risk the risk of injury.

Walking is an excellent way to start. If you are an outdoors person, gather a couple of friends or neighbors and walk at a normal pace for 30 minutes. Otherwise, a treadmill is a great alternative. Gradually increase your distance and pace as you become more conditioned. Exercise becomes aerobic when you are slightly short of breath (but still able to speak), and your heart rate increases.


Other exercises that you may find fun include cycling, hiking, swimming, or active sports such as tennis or basketball. What is most important is that the exercise is something you enjoy doing. No one is going to keep up with an exercise program that is tortuous.

Your goal should be to build up to 30 minutes, 5 days per week. If you can’t set aside that amount of time all at once, you can breakup your workout into three 10-minute sessions and receive the same benefits as a 30-minute routine. If you work at a job where you are more sedentary, remember to regularly get up and walk around as research has shown that too much time sitting can contribute to several health conditions.

Monitor your blood pressure regularly. The purchase of a good automated blood pressure cuff is a great investment. Take your blood pressure at different times during the day or week (morning, following exercise, and before bedtime). With regular exercise, you will soon see the benefits reflected in your blood pressure results.

There are some practical everyday ways to increase the amount of exercise you are getting.

  • Stop driving around that parking lot looking for the best spot. Take advantage of all those empty spaces farther away from the entrance. Depending on how much you shop, you can increase your weekly exercise by a decent amount.

  • Take the stairs. If you do not have orthopedic issues and can walk up a flight of stairs, step away from the elevator and take the stairs instead.

  • Spend some time with your children or grandchildren at the park. They will definitely keep you moving.

If you take advantage of these ideas, it will not even seem like you’re exercising.

Can I Exercise Too Much?

Your body will let you know what it can handle. Listen to it! Stop exercising and rest if you:

  • Develop chest pain. If your chest pain does not go away after 5-10 minutes of rest, seek medical attention.

  • Shortness of breath that renders you unable to speak.

  • Pain in your back, jaw, neck or shoulders.

  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, or weakness.

  • Develop an irregular heartbeat. Seek medical attention if this occurs.

Since you have learned that it is safe to exercise with hypertension, and it is effective in reducing your blood pressure, get off the couch, get moving, and exercise your way to a healthy life and lower blood pressure!


Menard, A. (2015, March 2). Can I Safely Exercise with Hypertension? Retrieved from


What is Cholesterol and Why is High Cholesterol Bad?

Cholesterol is a type of fat that your body makes and can be found in many foods. It is an essential component of the cells in your body, as well as being a part of important molecules your body makes for various different jobs.

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Having high cholesterol (hypercholesteremia) is bad because it is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. The high cholesterol leads to plaques that form inside of blood vessels, which causes them to become narrowed (atherosclerosis). This narrowing, in turn, increases the risk for heart attack and stroke.

There are two main types of cholesterol that can affect risk for disease. The first is Low Density Lipoprotein (LDL). This cholesterol is often called “bad” cholesterol because it contributes to the formation of plaque. The second type of cholesterol is High Density Lipoprotein (HDL), also known as the “good” cholesterol. This means that you should aim for a low LCL, or bad cholesterol level, and a high HDL, or good cholesterol level.

There are multiple causes of high cholesterol including: genetics, age, diabetes, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, and poor diet. Many of these risk factors can be controlled by living a healthy lifestyle. If you have any questions about high cholesterol, or would like help managing these risk factors, the Healthy Lifestyle Center is here to support you!

Read more about how to control your cholesterol here: Control Your Cholesterol

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Park, Y. M. M., Sui, X., Liu, J., Zhou, H., Kokkinos, P. F., Lavie, C. J., ... & Blair, S. N. (2015). The effect of cardiorespiratory fitness on age-related lipids and lipoproteins. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 65(19), 2091-2100.

Image source:

By Npatchett - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Causes of Hypertension

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, effects ⅓ of adults over the age of 20 years old in the United States. Hypertension has serious health complications, including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, kidney disease, vision loss, and dementia. In most cases of essential (primary) hypertension, there is increased resistance in the arteries making it harder for blood to flow. Hypertension has several risk factors (some of which you cannot control), such as age and family history of the disease. However, many of the risk factors can be controlled by living a healthy lifestyle. Here at the Healthy Lifestyle Center you can receive consultation services aimed to help you address hypertension risk factors such as smoking, body weight, physical activity level, diet aspects, and stress.

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If you have any questions about hypertension, please schedule a medical education consultation. During medical education consultation, a medical student will sit down with you and take the time to explain everything you need to know about hypertension. Then, they will answer any questions you may have. You may also benefit from our other consults such as nutrition, exercise, or stress management to help control the risk factors of hypertension. 


Basile, J., & Bloch, M. J. (2015). Overview of hypertension in adults. UpToDate, Waltham, MA.(Accessed on February 22, 2017). 

N, D. Retrieved June 26, 2019, from diseases/hypertension-ebook 

D, T. (2017, March 27). What you need to know about Hypertension. Retrieved June 26, 2019, from

The Importance of Following Your Medication Regimen

Approximately 50% of people that are prescribed medication by their doctor, do not take their medications, and 20-30% of new prescriptions are never filled at the pharmacy. Some people do not understand the consequences of these actions on their health. The obvious consequence is the worsening of one’s illness, and in the case of chronic illnesses, could lead to hospitalization or death. The estimated chronic disease treatment failure due to non-adherence is 20-30%, and has caused 125,000 deaths in the U.S. Missing doses or taking the wrong dose can lead to withdrawal or overdose symptoms for some medications. 


Your physician decided that taking these prescribed medications would be of great benefit for your health. The importance includes controlling chronic illnesses, treating temporary illnesses or infections, and improving overall health and wellbeing. Some helpful tips for remembering to take your medications include: taking them at the same time every day, including them in your daily routine, and keeping a calendar. 

Here at the Healthy Lifestyle Center, you can schedule a medical education consult to discuss any questions you may have about the medications you take. Alongside taking medications, almost all chronic illnesses are improved by living a healthy lifestyle. The Healthy Lifestyle Center can also provide support in learning about eating healthy and getting regular physical activity.


Brown MT, Bussell JK. Medication adherence: WHO cares? Mayo Clin Proc. 2011;86(4):304– 314. doi:10.4065/mcp.2010.0575 

Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Why You Need to Take Your Medications as Prescribed or Instructed. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. prescribed-or-instructed. Accessed June 26, 2019.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart attacks, stroke, and lower limb amputation. It occurs when your body is either unable to make enough insulin or it is unable to fully respond to the insulin it does make. Normally, the foods you eat are broken down into simple sugars that travel in the blood to feed cells. Insulin is a molecule your body makes that tells your cells to take in the insulin. Without normal insulin, your cells are not able to take up the glucose from your blood. The result is a higher than normal amount of sugar in the blood. This high amount of sugar can cause damage to small blood vessels as well as nerves and cause problems such as neuropathy, diabetic retinopathy, foot ulcers and many more.


If you have any questions about type II diabetes please schedule a medical education consultation. During medical education consultation a medical student sit down with you and take the time to explain everything you need to know about type II diabetes then answer any questions you may have. You can also get support for making changes to your eating and exercise habits as primary steps to prevent and/or manage type II diabetes. 

By Luke Vaughn

Source: Jiang, J. (2017, April). PDB101: Global Health: Diabetes Mellitus: Monitoring: Complications. Retrieved from

Sleep: The Underrated Component of Health

When thinking about what can improve their heart health, most people state discuss a healthy diet and exercise. One aspect, often overlooked in the importance of health, is sleep. Healthy sleeping habits and getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a night has been proven to increase health outcomes and provide benefits including improved memory, body repair, and reduced stress. Now, research is showing that poor sleep is correlated to increased risk of cardiovascular events and a higher rate of death in heart disease patients. 

A recent study showed that 39% of those with coronary artery disease slept too little and 35% slept too long. Both of these groups had a higher risk of mortality. Another recent study showed that people who slept less than 6 hours had a greater burden on coronary vessels. The increased risk is partly due to the increased prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes in those who have disrupted circadian rhythms. However, when these factors were controlled, studies continued to reveal a risk of cardiovascular disease. 

The Healthy Lifestyle Center can discuss the benefits of sleep as well as your personal sleep habits in a medical education consult. We can offer support in helping you set goals to improve your sleep hygiene and overall long-term health. 

Source: Kuehn BM. Sleep Duration Linked to Cardiovascular Disease. Circulation. 2019;139(21):2483-2484. []