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African Caribbean people are more likely to develop high blood pressure compared with other ethnic groups in the UK. However, you can reduce your risk of health problems by becoming more active in your everyday life.
Benefits of being active
Increasing the amount of activity you do can help you to:
- Lower your blood pressure - regular activity can lower your blood pressure by an average of 4-9mmHg (systolic or top number)
- Lose weight or maintain a healthy weight
- Reduce the risk of developing heart disease or a stroke
- Lower blood cholesterol levels
- Reduce the risk of developing diabetes
How can I become more active?
Being more active does not mean that you have to start going to the gym three times a week. It can be done by building more activity into your daily life that leaves you feeling slightly warm and breathing slightly harder than usual.
For example, brisk walking, cycling, swimming, dancing and playing tennis are all activities that will help to lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart and lungs. There's no need to overdo it, you should just about be able to hold a conversation during the activity.
Is it safe for me to be more active?
Almost everyone will be able to become more actve. However, make sure you check the following before you start:
Have your blood pressure measured and check with your doctor or nurse that it is safe for you to start becoming more active. If your blood pressure is above 180 systolic (top number) and/or 110 diastolic (bottom number), you should not be doing intensive activity until your blood pressure has been treated and lowered.
If you also have other medical conditions, such as diabetes, heart disease or breathing problems you may need different advice. Check with your doctor.
How often should I be active?
- Adults should aim to do at least 30 minutes of moderate activity at least five times a week.
- Children should be active for at least one hour each day.
- You can start slowly doing three sessions of 10 minutes in a day or two sessions of 15 minutes in a day.
- Build activities into your daily life (for example, walking or cycling instead of taking the bus or car) make being active part of your daily routine.
Are there activities I should avoid if I have high blood pressure?
- Avoid lifting heavy weights or taking part in weight training as this can raise your blood pressure to very high levels for a short time.
- Avoid vigorous short bursts of exercise such as boxing or squash.