Exercise and high blood pressure

Exercise and high blood pressure

Written by: Emma Anius

High blood pressure is one of the most important preventable causes of premature death worldwide. It has become an increasingly significant problem for the Caribbean, as high blood pressure is more prominent in the black race than any other race. St. Lucia was ranked 45th in the world by the World Health Organization (WHO) for adult males with high blood pressure (2002), and 56th for females.

Since high blood pressure is treatable and preventable there is no need for so many people to suffer from it.

There are several risk factors that contribute towards developing high blood pressure. Being overweight is one of them, this is because the heavier you are the harder your heart has to work to circulate the blood you need around your body to supply oxygen and nutrients to the tissues.  This leads to increased pressure on the artery wall, which increases the blood pressure.

Being inactive also contributes to having high blood pressure; this is because inactive people generally have higher heart rates.  A higher heart rate forces your heart to work harder to get the blood around the body and this causes a greater pressure on the arteries.

Regular physical activity not only prevents the listed risk factors from occurring, it also makes your heart stronger. A stronger heart is able to pump more blood around the body with less effort. If your heart can work more efficiently, the pressure on your arteries decreases, which lowers your blood pressure.

Exercise can help prevent risk factors!  You don’t have to become a professional athlete to help combat high blood pressure.  Simple things such as household chores, scrubbing the floor, walking around the mall, even going down to the beach for a swim will help increase your activity levels.

Incorporating active living techniques into your daily routine such as walking up stairs or getting off a bus stop early and walking also helps.

For some people, getting some exercise is enough to reduce the need for blood pressure medication.  If your blood pressure is at a desirable level — less than 120/80 mm Hg — exercise can keep it from rising as you age.

To keep your blood pressure low, you need to keep exercising. It takes about one to three months for regular exercise to have an impact on your blood pressure. The benefits last only as long as you continue to exercise.

Remember to start slow and listen to your body. If you are already involved in a sport, keep it up

Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity most days of the week. If you can’t set aside that much time at once, remember that shorter bursts of activity count, too.

Diet also plays a huge role in high blood pressure, adding extra salt to your meal can cause your body to retain fluid, which increases blood pressure.

Many traditional Caribbean dishes are loaded with seasoning and have salt added during preparation or cooking. Saltfish contains a high level of sodium, a 1 oz. serving of salted cod contains nearly 83 percent of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recommended 2,400 mg maximum daily sodium intake.

To reduce the amount of salt added to meals some alternatives are herbs and spices, peppers, chilies, ginger, cinnamon, lemon juice and vinegar.  Other foods that help prevent high blood pressure are green peas, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, apricots, bananas, cantaloupe and leafy greens.


Looking after your body is the key to healthy living.

If you have any concerns and want to check your blood pressure then please contact your doctor.

Getting Started!

If you have no time to exercise or don’t know where to begin:

Beginner:  Push-ups x 10, sit-ups x 10, squat x 10, lunge x 10, jog on spot for 2 minutes

Advanced: Incline push-ups x 10, weighted sit-up x 10, squat jumps x 10, weighted lunge x 10, jog on spot for 5 minutes

For help with the exercises go to www.facebook.com/cyanfitness and view the photos

 Note: Emma Anius is a Personal Trainer for Cyan Fitness promoting a ‘healthy life and a better you.’ Email: emma@cyanfitness.com

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