Taking regular exercise

Why is exercise important?

Exercise is important to lower your blood pressure, manage your weight and keep your heart healthy which in turn helps protect your kidneys. Exercise can reduce the risk of early death by 20% to 30%. Twenty first century lifestyles mean that people are less active than previous generations. Try to think of ways you can build more activity into your daily routine and lifestyle. You don’t have to join a gym or take up a sport to get fitter.

If you know that your blood pressure is high, talk to your doctor as it may be advisable for you to wait until your blood pressure has been lowered by medications before starting an exercise programme.

How do I start taking more exercise?

The best kinds of exercise to help your heart and blood pressure are those that encourage regular movement of your legs, shoulders and arms, and result in you getting a little out of breath. For example:

  • Cycling
  • Brisk walking
  • Swimming or aqua aerobics
  • Dancing.

You could also try:

  • Walking to the local shops instead of driving to the supermarket
  • Taking a walk in your lunch break
  • Getting off the bus one stop early
  • Taking the stairs instead of the lift
  • Doing some gardening
  • Yoga, pilates or tai chi.

You may find this new item on walking particularly interesting

If you find it difficult to get out of the house, try:

  • Walking briskly around the house for 10 minutes
  • Marching on the spot for 10 minutes
  • Climbing the stairs /climbing up and down one stair for 10 minutes
  • Chair based exercises (classes are often available locally – ask your GP or local leisure centre).

Some tips about exercise:

  • Warm up before exercising
  • Cool down after exercising
  • Wear loose comfortable clothing and shoes
  • Eat a light meal at least an hour before exercising
  • Drink plenty of water before, during and after exercising
  • Stop if you feel dizzy, nauseous, wheezy or get chest pains
  • Stop if your joints or muscles hurt or if you feel very tired.

Information and Support

The Blood Pressure Association
Tel: 0845 241 0989, www.bpassoc.org.uk

NHS Choices

Visit the fitness section

Many GP surgeries and local libraries have details of community exercise groups (some specifically tailored for those with medical conditions), swimming pools, gyms, ramblers associations and local walking groups.

Target /goals

Aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week. This could be three 10 minute activities spaced out during the day. It may take a while to work up to this so start off by aiming to exercise three times a week for 20 minutes.


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