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Exercise Increases Nitric Oxide (NO) Levels and Can Lower High Blood Pressure

Updated on November 18, 2015

Sail a Boat

Think of some new ways to get your heart moving.  Sailing can be very invigorating and can give you a nice workout to boot.   (all photos by the author)
Think of some new ways to get your heart moving. Sailing can be very invigorating and can give you a nice workout to boot. (all photos by the author)

What Is Nitric Oxide, or NO, and What Does Nitric Oxide Do?

NO is the chemical compound Nitric Oxide. It is produced by your body naturally and has many positive effects on you. It is mainly produced in the blood vessels. NO is key to many different chemical processes in your body and mind. Higher levels of NO than what people usually have can really help out. Nitric Oxide is beneficial to your body in these ways:

· Is a powerful antioxidant (getting rid of free radicals that wreak havoc on your body)

· Helps relax blood vessels (thus lowering blood pressure)

· Helps immune system (fights bad bacteria, viruses, and fungi)

· Raises metabolism (burning more calories)

· Is a powerful anti-inflammatory (reducing oxidative stress)

· Increases fatty acid utilization (helping to burn fat specifically)

· Reduces fat in the liver (helping your liver do its job)

· Inhibits dangerous blood clots (reducing chance of stroke/heart attack)

· Keeps blood vessels young and healthy (fending off atherosclerosis)

· Keeps heart and muscles young and healthy (fending off heart disease)

· Helps glucose uptake by the muscles (especially good for diabetics)

How About a Walk at the Beach?

Beach air is usually low in pollutants and is a great place to exercise by running, walking or swimming
Beach air is usually low in pollutants and is a great place to exercise by running, walking or swimming

Exercise Increases Your Levels of NO and Your Health

Exercise isn’t the only way to increase your levels of NO in your body. Simply increasing the levels of L-Arginine in your bloodstream also increases your levels of NO. In fact, the 1998 Nobel Peace prize was given to a team of three scientists for their work with nitric oxide and its importance to the cardiovascular system.

Exercise seems to be the best way of increasing levels of NO without using supplements. It would probably be prudent to make sure you eat foods that have nice amounts of L-Arginine in them (such as melons, tuna, blueberries, salmon, red meat, shrimp, cocoa, soybeans, walnuts, etc.). Then, if after exercising for six to eight weeks you aren’t getting all the benefits that you want, then maybe explore supplements and dietary changes to assist NO production.

An easy way to check to see how your exercise is helping your body (and therefore helping NO production) is to keep track of your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is going down then you know you are making progress. If your blood pressure is already at optimal levels (115/75) then you probably won’t see any changes to it.

Exercise produces many benefits to your body. Some of the benefits are through the increased levels of NO caused by exercising. It seems that the increasing blood flow in your blood vessels caused by exercise is the catalyst which kicks off the chain reaction that increases the level of NO in your body (simply put – it’s actually more complicated than this). NO levels remain elevated after exercise. Compared to your levels before exercising, NO levels could be slightly elevated as long as a week after exercising.

A Doctor Explains the Benefits of NO

Try "barefoot shoes" For a Comfort and Protection at the Beach

Vibram FiveFingers Mens SeeYa LS Polyester Running Shoe
Vibram FiveFingers Mens SeeYa LS Polyester Running Shoe

I like to be able to still "feel" the beach by wearing shoes like this.

 

Get Out Into Nature

Changing the scenery and taking a hike is a welcome change from the regular exercise routine.  Keep it fresh to keep it interesting.
Changing the scenery and taking a hike is a welcome change from the regular exercise routine. Keep it fresh to keep it interesting.

How Long and How Often Should I Exercise to Produce NO?

First of all, if you are not currently exercising, you should talk to your doctor before starting a new program. Certainly too, if you haven’t exercised in a while, you should start slowly so that you don’t get injured and have to stop or back off. If your body starts telling you something like “Hey, this is making me sore!”, then listen and back off or stop for a while.

You should try to work up to at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise for 4-5 days a week. During moderate exercise, you should be able to carry on a conversation without being extremely winded. Remember that moderate exercise for each person is different. If you are into measuring your heart rate or wearing a heart rate monitor, you should keep your intensity below 130 bpm or 70% of your maximum heart rate.

Or, you can do about 20 minutes of more intense exercise (after a five minute warm-up). During more intense exercise, you will have some trouble carrying on a normal conversation due to your need to breathe. Don’t think that you need to bring yourself to the edge of death to get NO increases while exercising. You should stay within yourself so that you can maintain this level for a long time if you wanted to. Heart rate might be in the 140 to 150 range of 70% - 80% of your maximum heart rate.

If you want to interval train and speed up and slow down periodically, that should be fine. In fact, intervals help relieve boredom and improve training results.

One other thing to consider is rest. It is easy to overtrain while you are exercising – especially if you are new to exercising or older. If you are a new athlete (or picking up after a long layoff) or are an experienced master’s athlete (over sixty), you should have an “easy” week every third week and have no more than one or two “hard” workout days per week. So “easy” days, you just crank the intensity down a little bit and “hard” days you crank the intensity and/or duration up a little bit. After you are in better shape, you can try adding one more hard day to your week and moving your easy week to every fourth week. Then, just stay at that level for as long as you want since it’s adequate for keeping your NO flowing. Enjoy!


Rollerblading is Great Exercise

Rollerblade Men's Fusion X3 Urban Skate
Rollerblade Men's Fusion X3 Urban Skate

I have rollerbladed for years. Make sure to wear your safety equipment!

 

Enjoy Nature While Exercising

Notice the flowers and butterflies.  Listen to the birds and other sounds of nature like leaves rustling.
Notice the flowers and butterflies. Listen to the birds and other sounds of nature like leaves rustling.

Don't Forget To Stop and Smell the Roses

Make sure you enjoy yourself while you are exercising. If you are indoors, play music or watch one of your favorite programs while exercising. Keep it fresh and mix up what you do to prevent boredom.

If outdoors, spend time looking at what's around you (when it's safe to do so). Be in the "now" and really immerse yourself in your surroundings.

You will want to continue your exercise program and you will always look forward to exercising and creating NO.

Remember to consult your physician before starting any exercise program.

Tell Us Your Favorite Way to Exercise and How It Has Helped You

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