The UK guidelines for blood pressure (BP) are as follows: Under 120 / 80 is desirable, 120 – 140 / 80 – 90 is elevated, with >140 / >90 being classed as hypertension stage 1. Recent revisions to US guidelines are slightly different, with >130/>80 now described as hypertension, in response to the increase in people with high BP. More than one in four adults in the UK have high BP.
We all know by now the dangers of living with high BP, and some people may have it but not be aware of it. As we age, BP tends to rise due to losses in elasticity and build up of plaque in the arteries, and reduced kidney function, leading to higher circulating levels of salt which affects BP.
Obesity can cause rises in BP mainly through added strain on the heart.
The good news is that small increases in physical activity reduce BP. This applies to both cardiovascular type exercise and resistance exercise, though the research quoted in ACE Fitness Journal suggests cardio is more effective. The American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommend 90 – 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity plus 90 – 150 minutes of resistance training per week. This could equate to 3 – 5 x 30 minute walks a week, plus 3 x 30 minutes of weights. If BP is high, perhaps the focus could be on the aerobic exercise.
Also recommended to help lower BP is a diet with less salt, saturated fat, total fat and alcohol, while eating more fruits, vegetables, whole grains (and low fat dairy products; I personally don’t abide by this as I don’t think low fat products taste very nice or satiate me. I prefer a little of the full fat option, but then I don’t have high BP). Interestingly, a diet low in carbohydrate is also shown to lower BP (Whelton et al. 2017), which may involve a concomitant increase in either protein and / or fat. Anyway, the debate on efficacy of dietary composition goes on ….
Also quoted as possibly helpful for lowering BP :
Tea – yay!
Dark Chocolate – yay again!
Yoga – nice one
Meditation – not surprising
Flaxseed – lovely in a smoothie
Plenty to go on.