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Pumping iron: How lifting weights can lower your blood pressure

Oct 8, 2012, 1:09 p.m.
Among the best exercise for seniors seeking to gain strength and lower blood pressure is lifting weights.

The older we get, the greater risk we face of heightened blood pressure. But there's nothing that says you have to accept this fate. In fact, there are many things that can be done to lower your blood pressure that have absolutely nothing to do with costly medications. If you really want to know how to drop your blood pressure, the answer lies in moderate exercise.

Before you go bounding into the nearest gym to start pumping iron, bear one thing in mind: Lifting weights, like any other exercise, can cause a temporary spike in your blood pressure. For this reason, always talk to your doctor before embarking on a weightlifting regimen. If you take a gradual, measured approach to your training, you can enjoy the beneficial long term effects it will bring. Here are a few tips to get you started on the road to bigger muscles and lower blood pressure.

  1. Work with a personal trainer, even if just long enough to ensure you learn the proper form so you don't injure yourself.
  2. Start light. Until your muscles grow strong enough to be able to easily handle more weight, don't overdo it by going for the heaviest dumbbells in the gym.
  3. Remember to breathe. Holding your breath when lifting heavy weight unnecessarily adds to your temporarily increased blood pressure. Concentrate not only on lifting, but also on breathing through each exercise.

Most importantly, pay heed to what your body's telling you. Your doctor can only tell you what he or she thinks are your body's limits, but only you really know when you're on the brink of overexertion. Listen carefully to what your body's trying to say. If it says "Okay, I've had enough," call it a day and resolve to pick up where you left off next time.

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