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Sport and Fitness on the Costa Blanca

See Also:-
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Weight Training - part 1
Weight Training - part 2

What is Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure is the measurement of pressure in the body´s arteries created by the hearts constant pumping of blood around the body. When your blood pressure is measured, 2 figures are provided, written in the following form: 120/80. The higher figure is known as systolic blood pressure and is the measure of pressure when the heart is contracting. The lower figure is a measure of the pressure when the heart is relaxed.

So what is high Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure, or HYPERTENSION is a constantly elevated blood pressure reading in an individual. A reading for a healthy person is usually 120/80, blood pressure is considered high when it reaches above 150 and/or above 90. These figures are constantly changing, and your GP may use a different set.

What causes it?

High blood pressure is caused by a narrowing of the arteries. Fat or cholesterol builds up on the walls, which narrows the passage through which blood would normally flow freely. Think of a garden hose when you step on it, or a kink in a pipe, pressure builds up behind the blockage. It is the same with high blood pressure. This in turn puts extra strain on the heart, and can lead to Heart Disease, Stroke and Kidney Disease if it is not treated. Stress is also more recently considered a major factor, as it increases heart rate, which in turn increases blood pressure.

How do I know if I have it?

You probably won´t. High blood pressure is asymptomatic (no obvious signs), which therefore makes it difficult to detect. Some people complain of tiredness and headaches, but this is not always the case. The only way to detect it is to get you blood pressure measured regularly at your clinic, or in the local pharmacy.

So what does exercise have to do with it?

Moderate, regular, cardiovascular exercise (walking, cycling, swimming, using the gym), has been shown to significantly reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Resistance or weight training has also recently been shown to have a positive effect.
Experts can not currently agree whether it is the direct influence of a reduction or the knock on effect that this has, that improves the situation. Regular exercise reduces the resting heart rate and also reduces the production of stress hormones that put extra strain on the heart. It also helps reduce or maintain a healthy body weight, which again, allows the heart to function more efficiently. Exercise also reduces stress levels, as it produces "feel good hormones”, known as endorphins.

So how can I reduce my risk?

There are many ways!! The following can all help lower the risk, or help if you already suffer with hypertension.

  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Limit salt intake
  • Participate in regular physical activity. Take up a new class, walk with friends, join a gym where an instructor can advise you of the best exercise programme to follow. Current guidelines suggest a minimum of 30 minutes, 5 times a week!!
  • Stop smoking.
  • Limit alcohol intake
  • Avoid stressful situations, if this is not possible, learn to relax!
  • Enjoy a healthy diet, eating plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables, limiting bad fat content, and eating good fat (oily fish, olive oil, plain nuts).

Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise programme!!!

For further information on blood pressure, the following web sites are full of useful facts, figures and ideas! (go to the health pages)
These web pages are intended for information only!! If you think you have a problem, please visit your GP.

Next month exercise and cholesterol!

Sally Abel is a UK qualified sport therapist with a BSc (Hons) in Sport & Exercise Science and a member of IIHHT.
If you are looking for a personal trainer, or have any questions, you can contact Sally on 00 34 647 275 051.

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