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About High Blood Pressure and Exercise
By Steele Belok, m.d.
Q: I know exercise is good for my health, but I’m worried about spiking my high blood pressure even higher. Any recommendations?
A: Physical exercise has been clearly shown to help control blood pressure, as well as to fight obesity, anxiety, and diseases such as cancer. Vedic practitioners believe that 20 to 40 minutes of mild aerobic exercise each day is a good goal. Brisk walking has been shown to reduce the risk of heart attacks and angina about as much as the cholesterol-lowering prescription drugs called statins, and people of almost any age and ability can do it.
Another great option is yoga, which is specifically designed to promote balance in mind and body. Studies conducted in India have shown that yoga has beneficial effects on hypertension and cardiovascular disease. All the yoga positions can promote relaxation, but the one known as shivassana, in which you lie perfectly still on the floor with palms facing up, is particularly helpful—I recommend that my patients spend a few minutes in this pose at the end of every yoga session. It’s also a good idea to include five minutes of pranayama (alternate nostril breathing), a technique that slows the breath, settles the mind, and relaxes the body, after yoga and before meditation.
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