image Contributing blogger Troy Meyers is a certified personal trainer and sports conditioner with more than 10 years of experience. He owns Atlanta-based JockBoyLocker.com and contributes to the site’s Lockerroom Blog.

If you’re concerned with your blood pressure, the first thing to do is consult with your doctor and listen to the advice dished out.

Most likely, you’ll be told to make some lifestyle changes such as eating a more nutritious diet that emphasizes vegetables, fruits and grains while reducing fatty, high sodium and processed foods. Another recommendation will undoubtedly be to participate in a regular exercise program that could include walking or cycling.

imageThere are other options, too. Strength training has beneficial effects on resting blood pressure and a combined program of strength and endurance exercise may be the best approach. Exercise also reduces stress, so adding it to your lifestyle is an excellent way to release tension and use energy in a purposeful and productive manner.

People on an exercise program tend to eat a healthier diet, receiving a second benefit 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.

Although you should certainly consult with your physician regarding an appropriate exercise program for lowering hypertension, the following training will boost your cardiovascular conditioning. But even if you don’t have concerns about your blood pressure, it’s always a good idea to check with your doctor before starting an exercise program.

As you begin a training program, keep a few basic principles in mind:

Be sure to warm-up for 3 to 5 minutes before exercising.

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

Do strength training repetitions at a slow speeds and through the full range of movement.

Use resistance that enables you to perform between 8 to 12 controlled repetitions. When you can complete 12 repetitions with proper form, increase the resistance by 5 percent or less.

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

Train three nonconsecutive days per week.

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