Hypertension and the Spinning® Program
By Sabrina Fairchild
to the American Heart Association, hypertension (high blood pressure)
currently affects about 73 million Americans over the age of 20. What
makes this so scary? High blood pressure is a major contributing factor
to heart attacks and strokes, which kill nearly 800,000 Americans each
year. Even scarier—many people don’t even know they have it.
isn’t something a person can feel, and it’s not something we as
Spinning instructors can see as we scan the faces of our students.
Therefore, we must take into consideration that approximately 30% of
our participants are afflicted with high blood pressure. It is our
responsibility to understand the medical facts regarding this condition
and the exercise guidelines that are recommended.
Spinning instructors, we can play an important role in creating
awareness within our participants regarding their blood pressure and
cardiovascular health. We regularly cue about training in our heart
rate zones. We know that a reduction of blood pressure is a benefit of
regular cardio respiratory exercise. It is within our scope to
encourage our students to get their blood pressure checked on a regular
basis. Most local pharmacies will have a blood pressure station that is
free and easy to use. Your own health club probably has a blood
pressure unit and people on staff trained in measuring blood pressure.
Set an example by doing it for yourself, so you can inform your members
of how easy and convenient it can be to get theirs’ checked.
creates high blood pressure? This seems to be a medical mystery
according to the American Heart Association; however, they do provide
numerous risk factors that contribute to it. Heredity, race (African
American) and increasing age (over 35) are three factors that cannot be
altered, whereas there are numerous controllable risk factors. A
sedentary lifestyle, heavy alcohol consumption, too much salt, extra
weight and stress are all factors that can be regulated. Spinning
classes and other modes of cardio respiratory exercise have a positive
effect on the controllable risk factors. Going to class 3-5 times a
week creates an active lifestyle, burns excess calories, lowers sodium
through sweat and reduces stress. Alcohol consumption may also be
reduced as a secondary side effect of living a healthier lifestyle if
someone’s drinking is stress related.
are also a number of over-the-counter medications that can increase
blood pressure. They include ibuprofen, decongestants and diet pills.
Steroids also increase blood pressure and are commonly used in gyms,
but obtained on the black market. As a Spinning instructor, you can
include health information right into your class cueing. For example,
if you have planned a ride that includes anaerobic intervals, you can
say at the beginning of the ride, “If you have underlying health
conditions such as hypertension or diabetes, or if you have taken
over-the-counter medication today, please keep your heart rate aerobic
during the intervals. I’ll be walking around a bit during the warm-up,
so if anyone has any questions, please let me know.” It is our
responsibility to give our participants enough information so they can
make informed decisions about their training.
are exercise prescription guidelines for those with hypertension. They
are published by the American College of Sports Medicine in the
Guidelines for Exercise Testing and Prescription, 7th edition. For
reduction of blood pressure using aerobic activity they are as follows:
3-7 days per week with daily being optimal at 40-70% MHR for 30-60
minutes. Please note that the guidelines do not include anaerobic
intensity because it is not appropriate. The good news is that
hypertension is a manageable condition and aerobic exercise lowers
blood pressure for several hours after exercising as well as
chronically over time.
last aspect to consider is that some people with hypertension will be
under treatment with Beta Blockers or diuretics. These are prescription
medications and they create some special circumstances. They may make
patients more prone to heat illness in hot or humid conditions. Beta
Blockers inhibit heart rate response during exercise as well as lower
capacity, so wearing a heart rate monitor is futile. Those clients must
use perceived exertion. Another set of medications called Alpha
Blockers, calcium channel blockers and vasodilators may cause
post-exercise hypotension. Review your Spinning Instructor Manual
(pages 1.20-1.21) for proper cool-down technique to avoid a rapid drop
in blood pressure.
a Spinning instructor, you may feel overwhelmed by large classes and
the amount of information you are responsible for cueing. There are a
variety of ways to educate your students:
- Impart information during bike setup
- Post information on a bulletin board
- Give all-inclusive as well as individual cues while you are coaching
- Model responsible training methods.
doesn’t happen in one class; it happens over time. Be consistent,
encouraging and approachable, and you will help a multitude of people.
For more information on hypertension, please visit http://www.americanheart.org.