I took my normal-to-low blood pressure readings for granted for a long time. But as I entered my fifth decade I was alarmed when the numbers started to creep up. I didn’t want to have to take meds. For me, things started to turn around when I began a simple walking program at home. I’m not able to do bootcamp style workouts but simple walk fitness videos three or four times a week have been a great benefit to me. Although I’m still struggling to lose weight, my blood pressure readings have remained consistently in the range that they should be.
Walking has many health benefits and one of the most important is its ability to lower your blood pressure and strengthening your heart. Most people who are at risk for stroke and heart disease are overweight, unhealthy and are reluctant to workout. And people who are living with chronic illness may struggle with getting enough exercise because of fatigue and chronic pain. But walking is an easy, low-impact workout that almost anyone can do.
To get started, just begin where you’re at today. Put on your walking sneakers and head on out there. If you can only walk for five minutes, don’t feel bad about starting there. It’s a new beginning. Stick with your routine for a week and then start pushing it up in 5 or 10 minute increments.
If you can go for 30 minute walk, start there. Pick up the pace, walk briskly and after a week or two, try to go for 45 minute walks. Or break up your walking workout into 3 shorter sessions interspersed throughout your day. The shorter sessions still count, and even one mile is better than nothing.
If you have any health conditions and in particular, if you’re suffering from high blood pressure and are at risk for heart disease, discuss your walking plans with your doctor. The two of you can come up with a plan that’s appropriate and safe for you.
Getting out and walking will help you on several different levels. The act of walking itself, particularly if you can go for a walk in nature is very relaxing and will lower your blood pressure soon after the walk. That’s a terrific benefit of walking and something that will help you feel better right away. But the benefits don’t stop there.
Walking as a regular exercise will strengthen your heart. Remember your heart is a muscle and going for a brisk walk works out more than your leg muscles. As you work out your heart, it gets stronger and better at pumping blood through your body. And as you strengthen your muscles and your body overall, you are likely burning body fat. That’s great news for your blood pressure and overall in the long run. All it takes is heading out there for a short little walk each day. As you get stronger those walks will get longer. In time, you might even want to try running or riding your bike a shot.
For those of you who live in places with climate extremes, you might enjoy indoor fitness walking. I do! Walk fitness helps to workout muscle groups that you might not use on a regular walk outside. I’ve made it a daily routine after breakfast and reap the benefits of greater stamina throughout the day.
Besides walking, following a healthy diet and losing weight are the best ways to lower blood pressure. And remember, walking also helps you to destress and that also affects blood pressure. Healthy diet, regular exercise, and losing weight are some of the most effective ways to reduce hypertension.
Ready to get started? Put on your shoes and go for that first walk!
Here’s some of my favorite walking accessories:
Leslie Sansone’s Miracle Mile is my workout of choice right now. She’s added resistance training and boosts to the familiar walking choreography and it’s an excellent workout. I visibly toned up my upper back and arms during the first month of working out.
A FitBit is on my wish list because sometimes my walks are limited to walking (well chasing) my Jack Russell Terrier around the yard and I don’t always know how much walking I’ve gotten in on some days.
Struggle with getting enough water in? I’ve been doing a lot better since I got a HydroFlask. I find it easier and more palatable to drink water out of stainless steel than plastic. I also love to flavor my water with essential oils and since you can’t do that in a plastic cup, the HydroFlask works well for that. I also keep this on the table when I’m doing a walk fitness video.
Asic shoes – These were recommended by my podiatrist after I developed plantar fasciitis. I love them for walking and haven’t had to go back for injections in a long time.
A fanny pack. Okay, they’re dorky but a necessity. But I have to carry an inhaler around as well as my phone. And living in a rural area, I’d need to call for help if I had an accident…
I’d love to hear about your favorite walking workouts.
You should know…
I’m not a registered doctor, dietitian or fitness instructor. My goal on the blog is to share my own experience and what’s worked for me as I live with chronic illness. Each one of us is different. Please do your own research and check with your doctor when it comes to making decisions about your health.
This blog uses affiliate links. They do not affect the cost of the product for you, but I receive a small commission for recommending them. I only recommend products that I feel comfortable with and believe would benefit my readers. Thanks for your support!