Hypertension | Exercise indicated or contraindicated?

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Hypertension | Exercise indicated or contraindicated? 

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure, is a condition in which the heart’s vessels are persistently raised or working harder than usual.

Why is this an issue?

If not well managed, hypertension may lead to future cardiovascular complications including heart disease and increased risk of heart attack or stroke. 

Exercise, particularly aerobic exercise has been demonstrated in the research to have a HYPOtensive effect or a blood pressure LOWERING effect.  

What does this mean?  

Aerobic exercise, the type of exercise which increases both heart rate and breathing rate, can help assist with reducing high blood pressure. Regular exercise can have a lasting effect on lowering blood pressure, meaning the more often you do it, the better it is for your heart!  

Indicated or contraindicated? 

According to the Australian Association of Exercise and Sport Science Position Statement (2019), vigorous aerobic exercise is considered generally safe and well tolerated by most including those with hypertension. Nonetheless, it is recommended that training should be postponed if resting blood pressure is poorly controlled (Systolic >180mmHg or Diastolic >110mmHg). In these situations, people are advised to visit their doctor for clearance to prior to participating in aerobic exercise. 

Exercise recommendations: 

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) recommends that people with hypertension should engage in moderate intensity aerobic activity 5-7 days/ week, with 2-3 sessions of resistance training. 

Simply put, the type of weekly exercise would look something like: 

  • Aerobic activity: 5-7 days a week 
  • Resistance training: 2-3 days a week  

  • Aerobic: Moderate – (slightly out of breath) 11-14 on 6-20 Borg Scale and 40-60% VO2 max (Oxygen ventilation maximum)  

  • 60-80% 1 repetition maximum 

  • 150 minutes a week of moderate aerobic activity. 30 minutes a day 5 days a week or any combination of 
  • 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity. 

  • Aerobic: Walking, cycling, swimming.  
  • Resistance: 2-4 sets of 8-12 repetitions for large muscle groups 

Don’t know where to start? Book an initial consultation with one of our Exercise Physiologist’s today to help get your blood pressure in check! 


Physio Inq Written on behalf of Physio Inq Sutherland

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