A combination of diet and exercise can keep hypertension under check

Do you get headaches often? Spells of dizziness at times? Bouts of anxiety? If you've just said yes, then you may be suffering from hypertension. Hypertension, referred to as the ‘silent killer', is especially dangerous because it often has no specific warning signs or symptoms. Of those who have high blood pressure, almost 35 per cent don't even know they have it. Fortunately, it is easy to monitor blood pressure by having it regularly checked.

WHY SHOULD BLOOD PRESSURE BE CONTROLLED?

High blood pressure causes the heart to work too hard. It increases the risk of heart disease and stroke. It can damage the eyes, kidneys, liver and the nervous system. Although genes play a role in the occurrence of hypertension, lifestyle habits play a crucial part in controlling this condition.

Causes behind the silent killer

Obesity

A high-salt diet

Smoking

Alcohol consumption

Stress

High caffeine consumption

High cholesterol levels

Take charge now!

Maintain a healthy weight; lose weight if you are overweight.

Exercise regularly – a minimum of 30-minutes of a moderate intensity exercise regime such as walking is recommended.

Limit your salt intake to less than 2,400mg (about 1-teaspoon). A high intake of sodium in the diet can increase blood pressure in about 40% of individuals.

Consume fruits, vegetables and a low-fat diet.

If you drink alcohol, do so in moderation.

Relaxation and deep breathing exercises are beneficial.

Avoid too much caffeine. Several cups of coffee can mildly increase blood pressure throughout the day.

TIPS TO CONTROL HYPERTENSION

Regular exercise is a great shield. Physical activity is one of the most important steps for preventing and controlling high blood pressure. Those who are physically active have a 25 - 50 per cent lower risk of developing hypertension. Findings from multiple clinical trials indicate that exercise lowers blood pressure as much as some drugs. Regular, low to moderate impact aerobic exercise can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure by an average of 10mm Hg.

Cardiovascular exercises should be performed 4 to 6 days a week, for duration of 30 to 60 minutes. Begin the exercise session with a gradual warm-up lasting for 10 minutes.

Examples:

Walking

Bicycling

Rowing

Swimming

Golf (walking the course)

Low-moderate impact aerobics

Strength training exercises

Strength training exercises should be safely designed with the help of fitness professional. Heavy resistance weight training exercises are not recommended as they can elevate blood pressure; do weight-training exercises using light resistance.

Deep breathing

Shallow breathing deprives the body of oxygen. The heart automatically compensates for this lack by pumping more blood. This increases the heart’s workload and can elevate blood pressure. Simple deep breathing exercises and pranayama decrease stress and can lower blood pressure.

Massage

Try going for a massage once a fortnight or month. It will help release muscular tension and relax your body.

Meditation

Meditation helps calm the body and mind bringing them into a better state of balance.

Restful sleep

Sleep allows the pulse to slow down and relaxes the body. A good night's sleep reduces overall fatigue, anxiety and stress.

Watch your salt intake!

Most of us consume more salt than we need. Limit salt intake to 2,400 milligrams per day (1-teaspoon). The low sodium diets not only help to keep the blood pressure from rising, but also help blood pressure medicines to work better.

When you eat too much salt, the body retains water to “wash” the salt from the body. This can result in high blood pressure.

Common foods are high in sodium

Processed and packaged foods such as canned soup, ketchup, pickles, and soy sauce.

Meats, sausage, bacon and ham.

Pretzels, popcorn, chips and peanuts.

Valuable vitamins and minerals

Foods high in calcium, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C and omega-3 fatty acids help regulate blood pressure levels.

Good sources of calcium - milk, fresh cottage cheese, yogurt, broccoli, cabbage, soybean, salmon.

Good sources of potassium – coconut water,tomatoes, bananas, beetroot, avocadoes, oranges.

Good sources of magnesium – spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, barley.

Good sources of Vitamin C- Red cabbage, bell peppers, citrus fruits, kiwis, strawberries.

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