Coaching & PE, Fitness & Health, Sport & Exercise Science

Physical activity for children with hypertension

Most people think of hypertension as being an adult’s disease, but a percentage of children also have high blood pressure and its incidence is on the rise due to the increase in obesity among kids.

Most children with hypertension lead active lives, but what about sports participation? Should children with hypertension play competitive sports?

For uncomplicated hypertension, aerobic exercise has blood pressure lowering benefits and also reduces obesity which in turn helps to lower blood pressure and offsets the risk of diabetes.

Children with hypertension need daily exercise to stay healthy and keep their blood pressures under control.

According to recent recommendations issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics in the journal Pediatrics most children with hypertension who don’t have heart disease or organ damage from hypertension can safely participate in sports.

However, their blood pressure should be monitored by a physician at least every two months and home or more frequent monitoring is even better.

The type of exercise a child does can affect their blood pressure readings. Static exercise such as lifting weights increases blood pressure more than aerobic exercise.

This means that children who are involved in sports requiring static movements need very close monitoring. Children with severe hypertension should avoid competitive sports, particularly ones involving static movements such as pushing or lifting, until their blood pressures are brought under control.

Children with high blood pressure who also have heart disease should avoid playing competitive sports and should be thoroughly evaluated by a cardiologist before participating in any type of strenuous exercise.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics