0800 040 7526
High blood pressure of various stages can be treated with medications. This is only usually used for those whose blood pressure is in stage 1,2 or 3, as exercise can be just as effective for those at the lower stages. Indeed, some exercisers have gone on to reduce their medicinal dosage while others can come off it altogether; so if you get yourself out and do some exercise (if you need motivation, we can arrange for one of our personal trainers to come and get you out of bed…) then you may be able to kiss your high blood pressure pills goodbye!!! (ASCM, 1993).
The following guidelines show the different types of blood pressure drugs and some of the effects they have. Normally only prescribed to stage 2 and 3 candidates. Some of these drugs alter the biochemistry of the body and may alter the response to or ability to perform exercise. Consult your GP!
Angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors: BENAZEPRIL HYDROCHLORIDE, CAPTOPRIL, LISINOPRIL. Stops production of angiotensin. It’s also a potent vasocinstrictor. Side effects can be coughing, renal dysfunction and hyperkalemia. There are no effects on aerobic exercise..
Calcium channel blockers: AMLODIPINE, ISRADIPINE, NIFEDIPINE. These decrease smooth muscle contractability. Side efects can be bradycardia, constipation, peripheral odema. There are no adverse effects on aerobic exercise.
Beta blockers: PROPANOLOL HYDROCHLORIDE, NADOLOL, METOPROLOL. These blood pressure medications block cardiac beta receptors thus decreasing heart rate contractability. Side effects can be bradycardia, depression, impotence and exacerbation of asthma. They can cause a reduction in aerobic capacity.
Diuretics: HYDROCHLOROTHIAZIDE, FUROSEMIDE. These drugs decrease the volume of blood in the system. Adverse effects can be hyperkalaemia, hyponatraemia and dehydration. There are usually no direct side effects, but any side effects can be made worse in exercise.
We have had a look at the benefits of exercise, today I’ll go through the total benefits of all the lifestyle changes you can make when added together. At Diets Don’t Work we approach fitness not just from a personal training angle but also try to adapt your lifestyle in an achievable way so that you get the all-round benefits of exercise AND a healthy lifestyle.
The NIH (2003) developed the following lifestyle measures for reducing high blood pressure, and also gives the actual amount that you can expect your blood pressure to come down by:
Weight reduction, maintaining a BMI of 18-24, gets you a reduction of 5-20mmHg per 10kg loss.
Nutritional changes and following the wholefood diet gets you 8-14mmHg
A reduction of salt intake, sodium of less than 2.4g/day gets you 2-8mmHg
Engaging in some exercise as outlined in the previous blog gets you 2-10mmHg
Moderation of alcohol gets you 2-4mmHg
Smoking cessation gets you 10-15mHg
So if you do ALL of these changes that’s a possible grand total change of a whopping 71mmHg less that your blood pressure will be. So go for it, make some changes, it will not only make your BP better and lessen the chances of a horrid death, but you will feel and look much better both mentally and physically too.
Exercise and lifestyle change (our speciality here at Diets Don’t Work) will help all levels of high blood pressure, but there are slightly different recommendations for the different stages. Both high and stage 1 can both be improved vastly with appropriate exercise, improving nutrition, reducing weight, smoking cessation, alcohol moderation and decreasing stress. Stages 2 and 3 are usually best dealt with through a combination of lifestyle changes and medication.
Aerobic physical exercise using large muscle groups in rhythmical movements is one of the most beneficial types of exercise. Systolic and diastolic BP can be lowered by 6-10 mmHg regardless of age. Obvious activities are walking, jogging, cycling, and cross trainers. Training at slightly lower intensities (40-70% of maximum) appears to lower BP as much as if not more than working at a higher pace; for those with very high BP it’s also safer. You should aim to do some of these aerobic exercises 3 to 5 times a week, for 20 to 60 minutes. The higher your blood pressure the more gentle you need to be, at least to start with. As personal trainers we have to refer anyone with systolic of 160 or above and diastolic of 100 or over to their GP, so if you are in this range consult your doctor. Anyone with 200 or over (systolic) and 115 or over (diastolic) should NOT exercise, but take other medical and lifestyle steps first.
Although weight training has not been shown to decrease BP while exercising (except when doing circuit based training that causes an elevation in heart rate – many of our personal training sessions follow this format) it does of course increase your lean muscle mass, increasing metabolic rate and so making it much easier to lose weight. This is explained in more detail in our resistance training section in the knowledge section. You should do resistance training 2 to 3 times a week, and stay in the higher rep range, going to loss of form on an exercise after 15 to 20 repetitions. You should AVOID working to concentric failure (when you just can’t lift the weight another time), reduce the load when working above the shoulders in stage 1 and “high normal”, avoid overhead work altogether if you are in stage 2 or 3 and also avoid decline work where your head is lower than your hips.
It should be noted that there is one huge step you can take to lower your blood pressure. According to guidelines (Chalmers, 1999) “smoking cessation is the single most powerful lifestyle measure for the prevention of both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular diseases in hyper-intensive patients. Excess fat is the most important factor in predisposing to hypertension”.
With blood pressure it’s important to “know your numbers”. Life-threatening complications can develop over a course of years when hypertension exists. Increased pressure on the inner walls of blood vessels make the vessels less flexible over time and more vulnerable to the buildup of fatty deposits in a process known as atherosclerosis. High blood pressure or hypertension also forces the heart to work harder to pump adequate blood throughout the body (see the previous blog). This extra work causes the muscles of the heart to enlarge, and eventually the enlarged heart becomes inefficient in pumping blood. An enlarged heart may lead to heart failure, in which the heart cannot pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs.
In some people, the system that regulates blood pressure goes awry: arteries throughout the body stay constricted, driving up the pressure in the larger blood vessels. Sustained high blood pressure – above 140/90 mm Hg, according to most experts – is called hypertension. About 90 percent of all people with high blood pressure have “essential” or “primary” hypertension – meaning that it has no identifiable cause. It is, however, common that a combination of the usual suspects, stress, anxiety, lack of exercise, nutrition high in saturated fats, high salt intake and excessive alcohol all play a part. In the remaining 10 percent of cases, the elevated blood pressure is due to kidney disease, diabetes, or another disorder. This is known as “secondary” hypertension.
Remember that at Diets Don’t Work our personal trainers are qualified to deal with this high blood pressure, and can prescribe a suitable exercise programme to start tackling the problem. Here are the numbers, so you know whether you are OK or whether you need to eat better (included in our block booking personal training sessions) and get moving!!
|Blood Pressure Category||Systolic
|Normal||less than 120||and||less than 80|
|Stage 2||160 or higher||or||100 or higher|
Blood pressure is commonly measured by wrapping an inflatable cuff around the upper arm. Air is pumped into the cuff until the blood vessels in the arm get so squeezed that the circulation is cut off; when a stethoscope is then placed just under the cuff there should be relative silence. As the air is slowly let out of the cuff the squeezing eases, blood begins to flow again and can be heard through the stethoscope. This is the point of greatest pressure (called Systolic), and is usually expressed as how high it forces a column of mercury to rise in a tube. At its highest normal pressure, the heart would send a column of mercury to a height of about 120 millimeters. At some point, as more and more air is let out of the cuff, the pressure exerted by the cuff is so little that the sound of the blood pulsing against the artery walls subsides and there is silence again. The last audible beat heard through the stethoscope is the point of lowest pressure (called Diastolic), which normally raises the mercury to about 80 millimeters. Systolic and Diastolic readings are both important but it must always be remembered that lots of things will cause fluctuations in BP. Exercise will make the systolic leap up, while the lower reading (the diastolic) will usually stay fairly constant. Simply having your BP taken can cause an elevation in BP (white coat syndrome – the nerves you feel make your BP go up!). Diastolic pressure has traditionally been emphasized because it is less subject to fluctuations. However, recent studies have revealed that systolic pressure may be as significant a heart attack predictor as diastolic pressure.
Normal blood pressure is thus usually said to be 120/80 (systolic/diastolic), measured in millimeters of mercury (abbreviated as mm Hg). What do blood pressure numbers indicate? The first is the big push from the larger left ventricle (the heart is lopsided, one side being stronger than the other.) The second reading is the relaxation of the heart between beats as the right atrium pulls blood into the heart. The higher (systolic) number represents the pressure while the heart is beating, or on the push. The lower (diastolic) number represents the pressure when the heart is resting between beats, creating lower pressure and sucking blood in. A good way of imagining this is to look at the heart as your central heating pump – the pipes and radiators are your blood vessels. The clearer the pipes (blood vessels) the less pressure will be exerted on the system by the pump. But if the pipes are clogged (with fatty deposits!!) then the pressure in the system will be higher and the pump will have to work harder to force circulation through the narrower pipes (or blood vessels), eventually to breaking point. The systolic pressure is always stated first and the diastolic pressure second. For example: 122/76 (122 over 76); systolic = 122, diastolic = 76. Blood pressure of less than 140 over 90 is considered a normal reading for adults. A systolic pressure of 130 to 139 or a diastolic pressure of 85 to 89 needs to be watched carefully. A blood pressure reading equal to or greater than 140 (systolic) over 90 (diastolic) is considered elevated (high).
A good test of your personal trainer is to see is he/she understands this. A personal trainer worth his salt and at REPS level 3 will have an in depth knowledge of BP and the ways to help it.
Hypertension is the clinical term used to describe a high blood pressure (BP) of 140/90 or higher. It is such a health risk that the world health organisation (WHO) claims that it is “one of the biggest challenges facing public health authorities and medical practitioners”. Worldwide, high blood pressure affects 1 billion people (NIH 2003) and is estimated to cause 7.1 million deaths: 13% of all deaths globally. For those suffering with hypertension there is increased risk of coronary artery disease, strokes, renal disease and all cause mortality (so that means everything else!!).
Hypertension as almost always asymptomatic or without symptoms (WHO 2002), thus it is described as the “silent killer” and is normally only detected with the use of a sphygmomanometer (the thing that the doctor puts on your arm and inflates). Only people with severe hypertension or an abrupt rise in blood pressure will experience the symptoms of headaches, blurred or impaired vision, fits or blackouts. Elevated levels of BP can produce a variety of structural changes to the arteries that supply the brain, heart, kidneys and elsewhere. Yet 7 out of 10 people globally are not being properly treated for hypertension.
Fortunately, in most cases exercise and correct nutrition will cause a reasonably quick lowering of high BP. At Diets Don’t Work all our personal trainers are qualified to train special populations including those with high blood pressure. In most cases some structured exercise at the correct level with your personal trainer wil lead to a big improvement in your blood pressure.
A million years into the future we may have evolved into a race of super beings, or possibly regressed into a troll like state, but a leading geneticist says we will most likely be more or less the same as we are now. Stece Jones argued in a recent lecture that the forces driving evolution (principally natural selection and genetic mutation) no longer have much of an impact. In the past, tiny advantages could have made the diference between life or death, making it more likely that the strongest/quickest/smartest would survive to pass their genes on to the next generation. But in the west, modern life is so comfortable that 98% of children survive into adulthood and natural selection no longer has death as a handy tool to promote advantages. Another factor is that fewer men have children in old age, and it is the sperm of older men that is the most likely to produce mutations and genetic variations. Finally, the opportunity for random change is dwindling because we no longer live in small isolated populations in which genes can be accidentally lost.
“History is made in bed, but nowadays the beds are moving closer togther. We are mixing into a global mass, and the future is brown” says Jones.
We’d like to welcome a new personal trainer to the team for the areas ofHemel Hempstead, Chesham and Berkhamstead. Harriet Goslett is a premier qualified REPS level three trainer, and her chirpy nature combined with her enthusiasm will mean that your sessions will be both effective and fun. Although we really only cover personal training in London and Berkshire, due to demand coming through the site we have recruited Harriet. Read a bit more about her on our meet the trainers page, and if you are in the area and looking to change your life for the better by getting fit and healthy (and most likely thinner in the process) call or email us, even easier fill in the contact form on the contact page!
Great art has long been known to lift the spirits, but can it also help to ease physical pain? Researchers from the University of Bari, in Italy believe it can, after an experiment in which volunteers given pricking sensations felt less discomfort when looking at beautiful works of art than at unattractive paintings or a blank canvas. The 10 volunteers had been asked to pick their favourite and least favourite works from a selection of 300 including Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus. They then looked at the paintings while researchers blasted a laser pulse at their hand. The volunteers reported feeling a third less pain when looking at the beautiful pictures that when looking at the ones they did not like or a blank canvas. “Hospitals are designed to be functional,” says Dr Marina de Tomaso, who led the research. “We think their aesthetic aspects should be take into account too”.
There are companies that address this in both prisons and hospitals in the UK. In fact one of our personal training clients in West Drayton works for an organisation that addresses aesthetics in public places, including hospitals – from a common sense point of view it follows that patients will feel mentally better if they are in pleasant surroundings.
Manorexia, which of course is slang for the male version of anorexia, is on the up according to the Independent, having increased by 67% over the last 5 years. Men now account for between 5% and 10% of all eating disorders. Should you be one of these our advice as personal trainers is to a) get help, go have a chat with your GP and see what he/she says, b) realise that nearly everyone, from the buffest gymaholic to supermodels have some part of them that they think is big or fat or ugly. Remember that we are all unique and beautiful in our own way. Just try to be healthy, eat well with moderation and try to get some exercise.
Give us a call, we have a personal trainer that will make you feel better about your self.