Exercise plays a role in controlling blood pressure. Aim to engage in physical activity (such as walking, bicycling or swimming) for at least 30 minutes five to seven days a week. You do not need to push yourself to the point of discomfort to get benefits. Regular, moderate physical activity reduces blood pressure by 4/3 mm Hg.

If you're too busy to set aside 30 or more minutes a day, you should still try to get some physical activity. In one study, people who exercised a total of 30 to 90 minutes a week decreased their blood pressure almost as much as those who exercised more. So exercise when you can, even if it falls short of the goal.

Also, you do not have to do all 30 minutes at once; doing three 10-minute sessions is just as beneficial. Always talk to your doctor before starting an exercise program. You may need to have an exercise stress test to determine what level and amount of physical activity are safe for you.

Publication Review By: Lawrence Appel, M.D., and Rafael H. Llinas, M.D.

Published: 15 Jul 2013

Last Modified: 15 Jul 2013