High blood pressure acts as a warning sign to calamities coming your way. The warning sign is pressure pushing against your artery walls and the calamities (of which there are many) include a heart attack. What happens in the intervening period is in your hands.
- High blood pressure – the best exercise you can do at home
High blood pressure will only result in a heart attack if the pressure pushing against your artery walls is left untreated.
Eventually, your artery walls will respond to this pressure by hardening, thereby restricting the amount of blood flowing to your heart.
A heart attack is what happens when the heart is starved of the blood it needs to function.
There are two key ways to lower your blood pressure and put an end to this process.
One is engaging in regular exercise.
The NHS explains: “Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.”
To unlock the blood-pressure lowering benefits, the health body advises doing at least 150 minutes (two hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, such as cycling or fast walking, every week.
In fact, one form of moderate-intensity exercise can be conducted at home with no equipment.
Evidence suggests tai chi, a mind-body practice that has its origin Chinese martial arts, can lower high blood pressure.
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A review on the effects of tai chi and high blood pressure reported an overall average of a 15.6 mm Hg drop in systolic blood pressure and a 10.7 mm Hg drop in diastolic blood pressure, compared to people who didn’t exercise at all.
To put these numbers into context, lowering your systolic blood pressure by an average of four to nine millimetres of mercury (mm Hg) is as good as some blood pressure medications, explained Mayo Clinic.
Systolic pressure and diastolic pressure are the two numbers used to measure your blood pressure.
Systolic blood pressure – the force at which your heart pumps blood around your body – offers your best indicator of having a heart attack.
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How to perform tai chi
According to Harvard Health, in this low-impact, slow-motion exercise, you go without pausing through a series of motions named for animal actions — for example, ‘white crane spreads its wings’ — or martial arts moves, such as ‘box both ears’.
“As you move, you breathe deeply and naturally, focusing your attention — as in some kinds of meditation — on your bodily sensations,” explains the health site.
Tai chi differs from other types of exercise in several respects.
“The movements are usually circular and never forced, the muscles are relaxed rather than tensed, the joints are not fully extended or bent, and connective tissues are not stretched,” notes Harvard Health.
The other component to lowering high blood pressure
Eating a healthy, balanced diet is also essential to keeping your reading in check.
This means cutting down on the amount of salt in your food and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, says the NHS.
“Aim to eat less than six grams (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful,” advises the health site.
It adds: “Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre, such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta, and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure.”
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