Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, occurs when the blood circulates through the body with too much force and causes damage to blood vessels and other tissues by increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and kidney disease. There are two categories of exercise – aerobic and anaerobic – which can help prevent or lower hypertension levels in the body. But which one is better? Let’s take a look at how aerobic exercises impact hypertension and how anaerobic exercises impact hypertension to decide which one may be best for you.
What is hypertension?
There are two broad types of hypertension that we'll discuss here: diastolic and systolic. Diastolic pressure generally refers to the force exerted by the left ventricle of your heart to push blood through your body and into the aorta, which carries blood away from your heart.
What are aerobic exercises?
Usually, aerobic exercises are activities that are low in intensity and high in heart rate variability, meaning that you're exercising at a steady state of 60-80% of your max heart rate (MHR). This means that there's not a lot of quick change in speed or intensity. Activities like walking, running on the treadmill, and cycling would be considered examples of aerobic exercises.
What are anaerobic exercises?
Exercises that focus on cardiovascular endurance and building lean muscle are considered aerobic, meaning they have a positive effect on your body's circulation and heart rate. This includes activities like running, jogging, biking and swimming. These activities can improve oxygen levels in the blood, as well as reduce LDL cholesterol levels and high blood pressure caused by reduced supply of oxygen to the heart muscles.
Why exercise should be part of a hypertension management plan
Although exercise alone will not cure hypertension, there are many benefits to having an active lifestyle and exercising often. Aerobic exercise, such as biking or running, will increase your heart rate, which means your body will be pumping more blood through your system at any given time. Regular aerobic exercise increases muscle mass and raises the metabolic rate, which results in fewer calories being stored as fat from a high-calorie diet.
Combining aerobic and anaerobic exercises may help prevent cardiovascular disease
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and it's directly caused by hypertension. Fortunately, there are steps that people can take to reduce their risk of developing cardiovascular disease in general—and heart disease specifically—even if they have high blood pressure.