Doc Was Wrong – Strength Training Helps Fight High Blood Pressure


You read it right – strength training AKA “Lifting Weights” protects against hypertension, it’s true.

If you’re hypertensive and you don’t know what the hell to do, lift weights. Contrary to what most doctors might tell you – that you shouldn’t even step foot inside the gym – lifting weights is actually something that you must add into your healthy lifestyle in order to keep your systoles and diastoles at bay.

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Disclaimer: Ironthumb is NOT a medical doctor – but is a licensed/registered nurse. But this article is not a medical advice; but is more of a “nursing intervention”, or health education. Nursing intervention is mostly about prescribing lifestyle modifications to help with your condition instead of prescription drugs which you will take for the rest of your life – that is the doc’s job, not mine.

But clearly this is one of those “common sense” issues that you should have known anyway – it doesn’t even need to be discussed in an article like this. But sure enough (and surprisingly so) some people who have problems with their blood pressure seem to steer away from any type of physical activity and most of them will tell you that it is “doctor’s orders”.

Now before we begin let us first demonstrate the study behind this premise:

J Strength Cond Res. 2013 Dec;27(12):3475-80. doi: 10.1519/JSC.0b013e31828f2766.
Acute and chronic effects of resistive exercise on blood pressure in hypertensive elderly women.
Mota MR1, de Oliveira RJ, Dutra MT, Pardono E, Terra DF, Lima RM, Simões HG, da Silva FM. (link to study)

Abstract
The purpose of this study was to investigate postexercise hypotension (PEH) during a 4-month period of resistance training in hypertensive elderly women. Sixty-four women were divided into 2 groups: an experimental group (EG), which performed resistance training, and a control group (CG) that did not practice any exercise. The EG carried out the following steps: (a) 3 weeks of exercise adaptation and 1 repetition maximum (1RM) test (month 1); (b) resistance exercise at 60% 1RM (month 2); (c) resistance exercise at 70% 1RM (month 3); (d) resistance exercise at 80% 1RM (month 4); and (e) PEH analyses at the end of each month. Measurements of systolic (SBP) and diastolic blood pressure (DBP) were calculated each 5 minutes during a 20-minute resting period before the sessions and each 15 minutes during 1 hour of post-session recovery. Analysis of covariance for repeated measures showed a reduction in SBP of about 14 mm Hg (p ≤ 0.05) and in DBP of 3.6 mm Hg (p ≤ 0.05) between resting values after the training period. In the EG group, SBP showed acute PEH during months 2 and 3, whereas DBP showed acute PEH during months 2 and 4. The CG did not show acute PEH or variations during the 4-month period. Postexercise hypotension occurrence and chronic reduction of resting blood pressure observed in the EG may have a protective effect on the cardiovascular system of the study participants.

You should realize that I am not here to tell you not to follow your doctor’s advice but we are only here to state a fact – that hypertensive individuals (old ladies) have reduced their blood pressure by simply adding resistance training into their life.

“…Analysis of covariance for repeated measures showed a reduction in SBP of about 14 mm Hg (p ≤ 0.05) and in DBP of 3.6 mm Hg (p ≤ 0.05) between resting values after the training period”

In general I really think that it is indeed normal for the medical field to steer people away from lifestyle modifications such as resistance training. It would not be wise for hospitals all over the world and hypertension drug manufacturers to advise something that will make people not need their products and services anymore.

Imagine a million people who were obese and hypertensive, starts training, stops eating rubbish and becomes healthy and well after two years: That’s billions of dollars’ worth of hospitalizations, medical bills and revenue lost for the medical field and Big Pharma!

Pfizer. Novartis, J and J, Roche, you name it – don’t want you to lift weights!

Although not all doctors are trying to rip you off, but it’s just the way they were trained – what the hell can you do? Doc has your best interest in mind off course, but if your doctor looked like he never stepped into a weight room – would you take any exercise advice from him?

Will you listen to a fat ass doctor if he tells you: “Hey, you have high blood pressure, you shouldn’t lift weights – look at me, I never lifted my whole life and like you I have maintenance drugs too, cool right?”

So I guess the moral of the story is one LIFT WEIGHTS and get off your lazy ass – and two, hire a doctor who has a background in exercise and sports.

A doctor who has a background in sports science and exercise can (should) help you design a weight training protocol that will take into consideration your condition and make your training safe and productive.

That’s all; eat your eggs, people!

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