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Weight Lifting and Blood Pressure

Q: I've heard weight training can lower your blood pressure. Do you have any specific exercises to recommend?

A: The February 2007 issue of Hypertension reported that weight training may help lower resting blood pressure by small amounts. That's what happened in a study in which participants did progressive resistance training from two to five times a week.

Combining strength training and aerobic exercise can be an effective means of improving blood pressure readings, but you must consult with your doctor before beginning any exercise and/or weight-lifting program. Strength training is not recommended for people with uncontrolled blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and untreated heart disease. The American Heart Association recommends healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 65 years need moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity for a minimum of 30 minutes a day, five days a week. In addition, every adult should perform activities that maintain or increase muscular strength and endurance at least two days a week.

Jennifer H. Mieres, M.D., is director of nuclear cardiology and associate professor of clinical medicine at New York University. She's also a spokeswoman for the American Heart Association.

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