If you suffer from hypertension try to spend your leisure in ways that benefit your health. Of course you should be doing things you enjoy and that meet your needs. If you spend your work day sitting behind a desk you should try to do something physical in your free time, and if your work involves physical labor you should rest. But whatever your job, try to make your leisure time activities serve your health needs. You might consider outdoor
activities like walking, bicycling, fishing, outdoor games, gardening, or indoor hobbies like photography, filmmaking, painting, collecting, carpentry, raising flowers or animals, reading, listening to music or playing an instrument, taking courses, watching TV, going to the theater.
Moderate Physical Exercise Is a Must
Daily physical exercise in the open air is essential. Ten minutes of exercising in front of an open window and a short walk in the evening are a minimum requirement. If you have not done any exercise for a long time start out slowly and gradually increase the time and degree. An exercise bicycle is another good way of working out; begin slowly and gradually increase. Once you have begun doing daily exercises you won't want to do without it. After only a short time you will notice the difference in your energy.
If you have a favorite sport or sports you will want to know whether you can go on doing it, or if you haven't been involved in any particular sport you may decide to take one up. Whichever it is, don't do anything without first talking to your doctor.
Generally speaking all types of light exercise are recommended. If you love the outdoors you can take walking, bicycle or canoe trips or go rowing. Whether walking or bicycling or canoeing, start slowly and gradually build up to longer distances. Cross-country skiing is another ideal sport. It is easy to learn, involves almost every muscle, and because of its even rhythm is especially relaxing.
If you like ball games choose one that is relaxing rather than competitive. Tennis depends on your attitude toward it, whether you play for fun or whether you go all out and play to the point of complete exhaustion. The same holds true for downhill skiing.
Swimming is another ideal activity. However, and this is important, never swim in water whose temperature is much below 68°F, and never swim if nobody else is around, particularly if you are on strong drugs. Immediate assistance must be available should you suffer a dizzy spell or faint. Thermal baths in water temperature above 80°F are permitted only if your heart is okay. If you are a good swimmer and enjoy the sport you probably won't get short-winded. If you do, swimming is not for you. Diving is definitely out.
If you find that walking isn't enough exercise for you you can work your way up to jogging. The best way to begin is to alternate ordinary walking, about 20 to 30 steps, with 20 to 30 steps of jogging. Begin with short distances and work up to longer ones. Never force the tempo.
Knowing When to Stop
Hypertensives must know when to stop even if they feel no strain while actively exercising. The limit for the patient with a well-regulated blood pressure is reached when his pulse rate per minute is 180 minus his age. In other words, if you are sixty, your pulse rate during exercise should not exceed 120 per minute. In case of coronary damage the stress limit may be somewhat lower. Have your doctor determine what it is. With limited cardiac capacity the ordinary pulse rate may be higher to begin with and go up precipitously With slight exertion. In that case your doctor may limit the physical activities.
Non-advisable physical Exercises
Exercises demanding great sudden exertion or sustained effort as well as all athletic competitions are definitely out. This includes all sports involving pressure breathing that raises the blood pressure: boxing, sprinting, diving, discus and hammerthrow, push-ups, etc.