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 Fitness and Special Performance: Facts About Blood Pressure  

A further advantage of exercise is in the area of stress reduction. Adding regular exercise to your lifestyle is an excellent means to release tension and use energy in a purposeful and productive manner.

Studies also indicate that people who begin an exercise program tend to eat a more healthful diet, and therefore receive double benefits from becoming more physically active. Of course, the same exercise programs that are useful for reducing hypertension, may also be helpful for maintaining desirable blood pressure levels throughout the adult and senior years. Although you should certainly consult with your physician regarding an appropriate exercise program for lowering hypertension, the following training protocol should be effective for healthy adults and seniors with respect to cardiovascular conditioning. However, even if you have no blood pressure problems, it is a good idea to check with your medical professional before beginning an exercise program.

Training Principles
1. Be sure to warm-up for 3 to 5 minutes before engaging in your exercise activities.

2. Keep your aerobic exercise at an appropriate intensity, typically about 70 percent of your maximum heart rate. This generally corresponds to an effort level at which you are breathing moderately hard but can talk in short sentences.

3. Do your strength training repetitions at a slow movement speed and through a full movement range.

4. Use a resistance that enables you to perform between 8 to 12 controlled repetitions. When 12 repetitions can be completed in proper form, increase the resistance by 5 percent or less.

5. Be sure to cool-down for 3 to 5 minutes at the conclusion of your exercise sessions.

6. Train 3 nonconsecutive days per week.

Exercise Protocol
1. Perform 20 to 30 minutes of walking, stationary cycling, stepping, or other large muscle aerobic activity in one of the following manners.

    A. Continuous training: After a progressive start, maintain a steady effort level until the last few minutes of activity, then gradually decrease the exercise intensity.

    B. Interval training: Starting at an easy effort level, alternate 3 to 5 minute intervals of higher and lower intensity exercise, for example, you could do the first 3 minutes of stationary cycling at Level 2, the next 3 minutes at Level 4, the next 3 minutes at Level 2, and so on throughout the training session.

2. Perform one set each of the following machine or free-weight exercises for your major muscle groups.

Machine Exercise Free-Weight Exercise Muscle Groups

Leg Press Dumbbell Squat Quadriceps
Bench Press Dumbbell Bench Press Chest
Front Shoulders
Seated Row Dumbbell Bent Row Upper Back
Rear Shoulders
Lateral Raise Dumbbell Lateral Raise Shoulders
Triceps Extension Dumbbell Triceps Extension Triceps
Biceps Curl Dumbbell Curl Biceps
Abdominal Curl Trunk Curl Abdominals
Low Back Extension Trunk Extension Lower Back

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 About The Author
Wayne Westcott PhDWayne L. Westcott, Ph.D., is fitness research director at the South Shore YMCA in Quincy, MA. He is strength training consultant for numerous national organizations, such as the American Council on Exercise, the......more
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