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Lower High Blood Pressure with a Little Exercise

The next installment of LIFELINES’ series on high blood pressure and how you can reduce your risk for this condition.

Nobody wants to be told they have high blood pressure, but learning that you have this life-threatening condition or are in danger of developing it can be an opportunity to discover something about yourself that you might never have known otherwise.

For example, you could find out that the exercise you have been avoiding is actually enjoyable and helps lower your high blood pressure. Exercise might also make the blood pressure medication you have been prescribed unnecessary, or at least reduce the amount you need to take.

You could be pleasantly surprised to find out that something as simple as a 15-minute brisk walk each day during your lunch break and then again at home after dinner might be all you need to reduce your blood pressure into a healthy range.

This is particularly important to keep in mind because even if you are careful about what you eat and are at a healthy weight, your likelihood for developing high blood pressure and heart disease increases simply by virtue of the fact that you are getting older. Just as your body tends to thicken and lose flexibility as it ages, so do your blood vessels. Arterial thickening and stiffening are major risk factors for high blood pressure and heart disease. By age 60, high blood pressure affects one in every two Americans.

The good news is that being more active is a lot easier than you think and the benefits extend way beyond lower blood pressure and overall improved physical health. Here are suggestions from the American Heart Association on how to keep active:

  • Get out the leash and walk your dog. (Your pet will love you.)
  • Take your child or spouse for a brisk walk. (This is an excellent way to get some one-on-one time.)
  • Mall walk. (This saves you from sweating or shivering outside − plus you can window shop!)
  • Join a team. (Pick an activity you love.)
  • Walk and talk. (Even if you’re glued to your phone, you don’t have to be glued to your seat. Make it a habit to walk and talk.)
  • Park and walk. (Instead of searching for the closest space to your destination, park farther away.)
  • Take the stairs. (The elevator may go up, but that doesn’t make your heart rate climb.)
  • Dance! (You can do this in your living room.)

The LHSFNA’s Nutrition & Fitness for Laborers training manual and the Nutrition & Fitness for Laborers and Build a Better Body brochures are designed to help Laborers improve their dietary and exercise habits. Order these materials through the Fund’s website by clicking on Publications.

The LHSFNA’s Health Promotion Division can also set up a health fair so members can have their blood pressure checked for free without having to take time off to go elsewhere for screenings. To schedule your health fair, call 202-628-5465.

Next month, a look at the effect of caffeine on blood pressure.

[Janet Lubman Rathner]

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