According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 67 million adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure. Of this staggering number, about 70 percent use medication to treat the condition.
Beyond medication, of course, another effective (and natural) course many follow to treat high-blood pressure, says Bend physical therapist Rob Hollander, is exercise – particularly moderate-intensity strength training.
“High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, and it’s a condition that can become particular dangerous as we age – if left untreated, that is,” Hollander, co-owner of Alpine Physical Therapy. “Fortunately, studies show that resistance training can be effective in helping to reduce high blood pressure, significantly in some cases.”
The American Heart Association confirms this.
In a scientific statement published in its journal “Hypertension” in 2013, the association stated that “alternative therapies” such as resistance and strength training can help people combat high blood pressure, including “those who can’t tolerate or don’t respond well to standard medications.”
“A common request from patients is, ‘I don’t like to take medications; what can I do to lower my blood pressure,” said Robert D. Brook, M.D., an associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and chair of the panel that assessed various “alternative therapies.” “We wanted to provide some direction.”
According to Hollander, developing personalized and safe exercise regimens for healthy, active aging is one of the foundations of Alpine Physical Therapy. By developing individualized wellness programs for clients, Hollander and his physical therapy team may help them realize the many benefits of exercise, such as the prevention of several diseases and conditions: cancer, depression, arthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, falls, and – yes – heart disease.
“We provide the guidance and support our clients need to reach their personal health goals, whether it’s achieving functional milestones that enhance one’s long-term independence or helping a client reduce his or her blood pressure safely and naturally,” said Hollander.
Of course, Hollander added, any consistent exercise regimen can help reduce one’s chance of developing hypertension by as much as 50 percent. Before starting any new exercise program, however, it’s important to consult a health professional such as a physical therapist or personal physician first.
Regardless of one’s medical history, however, Hollander says a physical therapist takes into consideration all clients’ medical history and movement limitations/weaknesses in order to develop a program that’s both safe and effective.