According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about one in three U.S. adults has high blood pressure, but because there are no symptoms, nearly one-third of these people don’t know they have it. In fact, many people have high blood pressure for years without knowing it. Uncontrolled high blood pressure can lead to stroke, heart attack, heart failure or kidney failure. This is why high blood pressure is often called the “silent killer.” The only way to tell if you have high blood pressure is to have your blood pressure checked.
Blood pressure is the amount of pressure the blood forces against artery walls. Two forces create blood pressure. The first comes from the heart pumping the blood into arteries, and the second is the artery force resisting the blood flowing through them.
You should have your blood pressure checked at least once every two years. Normal blood pressure is 120/80 or lower. The top number is called your systolic pressure. This number is equivalent to the pressure caused when the heart contracts and pumps blood to the rest of your body. The lower number is called your diastolic pressure. This number corresponds to the pressure caused by the heart relaxing between beats.
Through exercise, you can control your blood pressure and decrease your chance of a heart attack or stroke. Exercise generally decreases both the systolic and diastolic components of your blood pressure value by about ten points. This change does not take years of work, but can occur as soon as one to three months after beginning an exercise routine.
Exercise also helps lower your chance of heart disease through weight control. Blood pressure is often elevated with added weight gain. Losing just ten pounds may reduce your blood pressure significantly. Individuals with high blood pressure who exercise regularly have lower death rates than those that do not exercise.
Aerobic exercise is the best exercise to help decrease high blood pressure. This can include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling, or a variety of fitness classes. These exercises do not have to be strenuous activities. A good rule is the “talking rule”– your heart rate and breathing should be elevated, but you should still be able to carry on a conversation.
Accumulating 30 minutes or more of exercise on most days of the week is recommended. While finding 30 minutes of free time each day can seem like an impossible feat, begin with baby steps. This time can be broken up into smaller segments through out the day.
To continue to see benefits you must maintain a consistent exercise routine. The benefits of exercise quickly cease after you stop exercising. So, try to make it enjoyable and interesting to stay motivated. Invite a friend or family member to join in, or vary the frequency, intensity, amount of time, or the type of exercise. Whatever you do, KEEP MOVING!
For additional resource information visit: www.americanheart.org
Health and happiness, Kriss
(c) Kriss Brooks, All Rights Reserved