Tag Archives: high blood pressure

11 Exercise Benefits You Don’t See

exerciseWhat’s the most common reason why people exercise? To lose weight. Yet, physical activity provides so many more benefits. Do you want to feel better? Need more energy? Want to live longer? Then get out there and get moving!

Here are 11 important benefits to exercising that you don’t see:

Improved mood
If you’re in a bad mood or have had a stressful day, you can blow off some steam by going for a brisk 30-minute walk or working out at the gym. Exercise stimulates brain chemicals that make you feel happier and more relaxed. You may also feel better about yourself because you fit a workout into your day.

Energy boost
When you’re tired, the last thing you want to do is move. Yet, when you use energy to exercise, it gives you an energy boost. By exercising more regularly, you may also be able to eliminate fatigue and find that you have a lot more pep.

More confidence
Working out can make you look better on the outside. It can also make you feel better on the inside. Exercising can make you feel more empowered and boost your self-esteem. You feel ready to conquer anything.

Sleep better
We need our beauty rest so that our bodies can recover, repair damage, renew energy and clear the mind. Exercise is an all-natural sleep aid. People who exercise regularly have less insomnia and a higher quality of sleep.

Reduce stress
Exercise calms your body and your brain. After you work out, the levels of stress hormones – such as adrenaline and cortisol – drop. Especially after aerobic exercise, stress and anxiety melt away. You may also be able to cope more easily with stress when you feel confident about yourself.

Pump up your heart
If high blood pressure and heart disease run in your family, exercise can help you strengthen your heart. Being active boosts HDL or “good cholesterol” and lowers unhealthy triglycerides. Physical activity keeps your blood flowing and decreases the risk of cardiovascular disease.

Combat disease
In addition to giving you a healthy heart, regular physical activity can help you prevent or manage a wide range of health problems. Do you have a family history of certain types of diseases? Get moving and reduce your risk of stroke, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes depression, certain types of cancer, arthritis and falls.

Relieve arthritis pain
Regular exercise can help ease your pain if you have arthritis. It can make your daily activities easier. Consider non-impact exercises like swimming. These types of exercises can be easier on your joints.

Strengthen bones
It’s important to keep our bones and muscles strong as we get older. Weight-bearing exercise, such as weight-lifting, walking, tennis and dancing, can help you strengthen and build bones. It can also help ward off osteoporosis and improve balance and coordination.

Look younger
People who work out often look younger than their friends. Now research has found that exercisers are truly younger on a cellular level than their peers. Exercise more and feel free to lie about your age!

Live longer
In addition to looking younger, regular exercise can add years to your life. You don’t have to be a hard-core fitness buff. Just get up and get moving. Even a little exercise can help you live longer than not exercising at all.

The bottom line: exercise is a great way to feel better, gain confidence, combat disease and improve chronic health conditions. Aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. So get moving!

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Are you at risk for high blood pressure?

high blood pressure heart family geneticsBoth of my parents take medication to lower their blood pressure. My brother also takes blood pressure medicine. At 43 years old, my numbers are currently normal, but I do worry about hypertension.

How much does my genetic make-up have to do with it? Or, does my lifestyle have the biggest impact on my blood pressure? Before we get into the risk factors, I think we need to answer a few other important questions.

What is high blood pressure?
Your blood pressure is high if you have readings that are consistently above 140 over 90 for several weeks. You can also have high blood pressure if just one of those numbers is high over a period of time.

What does it matter if you have high blood pressure?
Higher blood pressure puts a strain on your heart and blood vessels. This additional strain can increase your risk of a heart attack or stroke. High blood pressure can also cause kidney disease, and is linked to some forms of dementia.

What are the signs of high blood pressure?
There typically aren’t any signs or symptoms of high blood pressure. The only way to know if you have high blood pressure is to have your readings taken. One high reading does not necessarily mean your blood pressure is high. Many things can affect your pressures throughout the day. You may also get stressed about going to the doctor, which may increase your reading. You need to have your blood pressure checked over time and see if it remains high.

What causes high blood pressure?
For most people, there isn’t a single cause for their high blood pressure. It’s not certain what causes high blood pressure, but it seems to be most often brought on by a combination of your lifestyle as well as other factors that you can’t control.

Here are some of the key risk factors for high blood pressure:

Aging
The risk of high blood pressure increases as you age. Men 45 years of age and older have an increased risk of hypertension. Women are more likely to develop high blood pressure at about 55 years old, or after menopause.

Family history
Genetics is a strong risk factor for high blood pressure. Hypertension tends to run in families. However, maintaining a healthy lifestyle, such as good eating habits and keep off extra weight, can help prolong the time you spend without the disease.

Ethnicity
People from African-Caribbean and South Asian decent tend to be at a greater risk for high blood pressure. African Americans also have increased rates of hypertension, can develop the condition earlier in life, and often have more serious complications than Caucasians.

Being overweight
Being overweight or obese creates an extra strain on your heart. Your blood pressure can rise with the more extra pounds you put on. More blood is circulated through your body and adds more pressure to your artery walls. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent high blood pressure.

Physically inactive
Without regular exercise to keep your heart strong, it has to pump harder to circulate your blood and puts extra stress on your arteries. Lack of physical activity also goes hand in hand with becoming overweight.

Unhealthy diet
Having too much fat and sugar in your diet can contribute to weight gain and increase your chances of high blood pressure. Eating a healthy diet with protein, fiber and plenty of fruits and vegetables can even help lower blood pressure.

Too much salt
A high sodium diet can raise your blood pressure. When you eat too much salt, your body retains fluid which can increase blood pressure. Keep your salt intake to a minimum.

Using tobacco
Smoking or chewing tobacco raises your blood pressure temporarily. However, the chemicals in tobacco can also damage the lining in your artery walls. Your arteries can narrow and raise your blood pressure.

Overindulging in alcohol
Drinking too much alcohol can also increase your risk of hypertension. Over time, it damages your heart. Limiting yourself to one glass of alcohol a day if you’re a woman and two glasses a day if you’re a man can help you avoid high blood pressure.

So, while my age and my family genetics may be going against me, it seems that I can help lower my chances of developing high blood pressure by living a more balanced lifestyle. By exercising, eating right and maintaining a healthy weight, I may be able to keep high blood pressure at bay. That’s all the more reason to live a balanced life!