Get in your daily steps to boost your heart health and add years to your life.
Reviewed by Dietitian Maria Laura Haddad-Garcia
If high blood pressure is giving you grief, it's time to put one foot in front of the other with our seven-day walking plan. This plan was designed specifically to lower blood pressure by an expert trainer. Walking is an effective and enjoyable way to improve cardiovascular health and reduce blood pressure. The American Heart Association says an estimated 103 million Americans have high blood pressure, putting them at risk for heart disease and other complications. This statistic is concerning, considering heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, followed by stroke, according to the World Health Organization.
In this article, we'll provide a comprehensive seven-day plan to guide you through incorporating walking into your daily routine to build a healthier lifestyle. We'll also cover how walking can boost your heart health, and how much walking you should do to get that blood pressure under control once and for all.
Table of Contents
How Walking Benefits Your Blood Pressure
Walking is far more than a way to get from point A to point B. It's a low-impact exercise that can boost joint health, enhance mood and increase energy levels, per the National Institute on Aging. Even more so, walking can positively impact your cardiovascular health by helping maintain healthy blood pressure levels.
Exercising (e.g., walking) increases your heart rate, promoting better blood flow. Increased blood flow allows blood vessels to dilate and relax, lowering blood pressure. Additionally, walking stimulates the production of endorphins, natural mood boosters that can help reduce stress and anxiety, which contribute to high blood pressure.
"Walking increases your heart rate, which strengthens your heart and cardiovascular system when done consistently," says Jarrod Nobbe, CPT, a performance coach and certified personal trainer with Garage Gym Reviews. "Over time, this makes it easier for your heart to pump blood and can help lower your blood pressure. The effects of walking consistently, including weight loss when walking is paired with healthy eating, can also help lower your blood pressure."
How Much to Walk for Better Blood Pressure
When it comes to walking for better blood pressure, consistency is key. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, which breaks down to roughly 30-minute walks five days a week. A 2021 review published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews supports these findings. Researchers found that doing three to five moderate‐intensity walks, lasting 20 to 40 minutes, each week for approximately three months can help lower blood pressure.
However, even a few minutes of walking daily can make a difference. If you're new to exercise, start small and gradually increase your walking. A 10-minute walk during your lunch break or after dinner is a fantastic place to start. As you build endurance, work toward longer walks and maintain a brisk pace to elevate your heart rate.
Remember to listen to your body. Adjust the duration and intensity of your walks based on your fitness level. If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, consult your health care provider before starting any exercise program. "Always check in with your doctor before significantly changing your activity levels," advises Nobbe.
7-Day Walking Plan to Lower Your Blood Pressure
"This walking plan breaks up the recommended 150 minutes throughout four workouts and includes a bonus walk to surpass the recommendations if time and energy levels allow," explains Nobbe. Whether you're a beginner or already have an active lifestyle, this plan can be customized to suit your fitness level and schedule. So lace up your walking shoes, get outdoors and prepare to lower your blood pressure—one step at a time.
Day 1: 30 minutes
Walk at a moderate pace for 30 minutes, maintaining a manageable and steady pace throughout your walk.
Day 2: 45 minutes
Walk at a light to moderate intensity for 25 minutes, then pick up the pace to gently push yourself every 5 minutes. Once you have 5 minutes left, cool down at a slower pace.
Day 3: Rest
Incorporate light stretching or gentle movement that promotes active rest and recovery.
Day 4: 45 minutes
Walk for 10 minutes at a moderate pace, then do intervals of brisk walking for 1 minute, followed by a slower pace for 1 minute, for a total of 30 minutes. Cool down for 5 minutes at a slower pace.
Day 5: 30 minutes
Walk for 30 minutes at a moderate intensity. Try incorporating some inclines or hills during this walk for an extra challenge.
Day 6: 45 minutes
Walk at a moderate intensity for 45 minutes, focusing on maintaining a brisk pace and adding more intense spurts if you feel well-rested.
Day 7: Rest
Do some light stretching or other gentle movements to support muscle recovery.
The Bottom Line
Walking is an effective way to lower your blood pressure and boost your heart health. With over one-third of U.S. adults impacted by high blood pressure, taking action and reducing your heart disease risk is crucial. Research suggests walking roughly 150 minutes per week, spread across three to five sessions, to reduce blood pressure. Follow this seven-day walking plan designed to lower blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure or other underlying health conditions, talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine.