The 4 components of exercise to counter high BP

High blood pressure (BP) or hypertension is a major threat to your health and your quality of life. It can lead to life-threatening conditions like heart attack and stroke. The youth in India is more and more affected by this medical hazard. In fact, 1 in 5 young adults in our country is suffering from hypertension, according to a recent press release (1). So it is time to shift our focus to preventive rehabilitation in the younger generation.

Preventive rehabilitation is designed to reduce risk factors and prevent diseases. It is teamwork of physicians, exercise therapists, nutritionists and psychologists. In this blog post, I would like to share some exercise tips for the prevention and cure of hypertension.

Are you aware that exercise can reduce blood pressure? Indeed, regular physical activity not only reduces the stiffness in your blood vessels but also makes your heart more efficient hereby lowering your blood pressure to a desirable level.

Aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility exercise are the three components of exercise that work hand in hand to bring down your elevated BP to normal levels. And together with breathing exercises, you definitely have the upper hand against high BP!

Aerobic Exercise

Any activity that you do use a large muscle group for a long duration which increases your heart rate and breathing rate is known as aerobic exercise. The best examples are walking, cycling and swimming.

Strength training or Resistance Exercise

I am often faced with the question “Is resistance exercise safe?” The answer is YES. It has long-term health benefits on all muscles including the cardiac muscle and also reduces the overall resistance in the arteries which is the underlying culprit causing high BP(2).

The American heart association recommends 2 days per week of resistance exercise for cardiac and hypertensive patients.

Flexibility Exercise

It improves flexibility and blood flow in the muscles. Regular flexibility exercise improves muscle endurance. Yoga is the best example of this group of exercise. It is not only a mind-body aligning tool but also a great stress buster.

Breathing Exercise

Find a comfortable spot at home or at work and start breathing deeply and slowly in a relaxed way for 10-15 minutes. This is known as deep breathing or regulated breathing or pranayama and it helps to relax your mind and your body. Special breathing techniques need to be learnt from experts and practised the right way for maximum health benefits.

The above-mentioned exercises are ideal for hypertensive patients. In addition to exercise, dietary changes and stress management training for all and BP lowering medication for a few are the best tools to reduce blood pressure. Most importantly, consult your physician before beginning your exercise program. We provide personalised preventive rehabilitation programs for individuals with high blood pressure, diabetes, cholesterol problems, body weight issues and psychosocial problems including chronic stress and addictions. The outcomes of our programs are excellent and our results have been published in international medical journals.

Reference

  1. https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/One-in-five-young-adults-in-India-has-high-blood-pressure
  2. https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1161/JAHA.112.004473

Let the flu not hamper your cardiac wellbeing

If you have heart problems, it is important to do all you can to avoid getting the flu. Flu and pneumonia create special problems for heart patients. You’ll have a harder time fighting off viruses that cause the illness. In fact, people with heart trouble are more likely to get the flu than people with any other long-term (chronic) illness. Pneumonia is a lung infection that prevents your lungs from getting enough oxygen into the blood, creating a strain on the heart. Viral infections like the flu also put added stress on your body, which can affect your blood pressure, heart rate, and overall heart function. In this blog post, I would like to outline some easy dietary trips to prevent flu and to hasten recovery from it.

Symptoms of the flu:

The flu usually comes on quickly. You might have one or more of the following symptoms…

  • Fever (usually high)
  • Severe aches and pains in the joints and muscles
  • Generalised weakness
  • Warm, flushed skin and red, watery eyes
  • A headache
  • A dry cough
  • A sore throat and watery discharge from the nose

Though your appetite may be down during the flu it is important to eat a variety of foods (at least in small portions) from all food groups. In this way, you can ensure you get the vitamins, minerals, antioxidant-rich foods and macronutrients needed to support your immune system, to reduce the risk of chronic lung disease and to keep other prolonged illnesses at bay.

Let us see some superfoods to include in your daily diet in the flu season.

Brightly coloured vegetables:

Try to eat a rainbow of brightly coloured vegetables that are proven to protect your health. These are packed with nutrient-rich plant compounds called phytochemicals that help the body neutralise free radicals. Free radicals cause damage to your cells and tissues and may lead to chronic illness. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, the following vegetables contain the much-needed phytochemicals:

  • Cabbage
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Greens
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Beetroot
  • Carrot
  • Bell peppers
  • Turnip

Brightly coloured fruits:

Fruits are particularly high in antioxidants, vitamins A, C, E and phytochemicals and have a protective effect on the lungs. They have been linked to a lower risk of dying from chronic lung disease. In fact, consuming as little as 100 grams a day (approximately one serving) of fruits is associated with a 24% lower risk of death due to lung ailments. The brightly coloured fruits that I would like to recommend are:

  • Apples
  • Pears
  • Citrus fruits (orange, sweet lime)
  • Berries
  • Cherries
  • Watermelon
  • Grapes
  • Pomegranates
  • Lemons
  • Pineapples
  • Bananas

Add Garlic and Onion to dishes

Garlic and onion are called “natural antibiotics” due to their healing powers, especially against infectious diseases like cold and flu. They help treat the common cold and may decrease the chances of a cold by 64 %. For example, onions are one of the richest sources of dietary flavonoids, which may decrease your risk of cancer, lung and cardiac diseases. Onions are also a great source of vitamin C, a vitamin that plays an important role in immune function. Research has shown that regular consumption of the organosulfur compounds found in onions and garlic may also prevent the development of cardiovascular diseases.

Black tea:

Black tea contains xanthine alkaloids from which the stimulant theophylline is derived. Theophylline is a bronchodilator and it is used in the treatment of lung diseases as it helps open up the airways and decrease breathlessness. These are rich in antioxidants, such as flavonoids. Regular consumption of black tea may help lower the risk of heart attack and cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and cholesterol abnormalities.

Try to add ginger to your diet

Ginger not only has anti-inflammatory properties but it is also a powerful natural painkiller which will help us fight a cold. It reduces fevers, soothes sore throats and encourages coughing to remove mucus from the chest. It also helps break down mucous to help clear your respiratory tract and alleviate symptoms of congestion. The two chemical compounds shogaols and gingerols are present in ginger that stimulate blood circulation and open our sinuses. The improved blood circulation means more oxygen entry into our tissues, which in turn will help to remove toxins and viruses. Fresh ginger is best had in teas and cooked with foods.

Get enough vitamin D through sunlight or food

Vitamin D, also known as“sunshine vitamin” is an important nutrient for overall health and also reduces the risk of respiratory infections, including colds, bronchitis, pneumonia and flu.  Nowadays, we see a high prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in our people especially in the winter months; when our exposure to sunlight is low we need to maximise the absorption of vitamin D from our diets. Try to eat vitamin D rich foods including fatty fish such as tuna, salmon, mackerel, eggs, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, soy products and mushrooms. Including a selection of these foods regularly throughout the winter months is a good way to improve your vitamin D levels and also to keep acute and chronic lung infections at bay.

Omega -3 fatty acids:

A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids is well known to protect the lungs against chronic inflammation and also reduce the risk of heart attack, diabetes, obesity, abnormal cholesterol level and hypertension. Omega-3 fatty acids may also help improve symptoms of flu. These are some foods loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, to be added to your daily diet:

  • Fatty fish (salmon, herring, tuna, mackerel, sardines)
  • Cooking oils (rice bran, canola, flaxseed, and soybean)
  • Mixed nuts
  • Flaxseed, sunflower seed, pumpkin seed, chia seed
  • Soybeans

Here is a low fat immune boosting flu-fighting garlic soup recipe especially for you:

Ingredients:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 big onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced (optional)
  • 1 big carrot, finely chopped
  • 5 mushroom caps, finely chopped (white button mushroom)
  • 1/4 cup coriander, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup spinach, rinsed
  • 1/8 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6 cups water
  • salt, pepper and crushed red chilli flakes to taste

PROCEDURE:

  1. In a medium-sized pan heat oil and sauté the onions, turmeric powder, red chilli flakes and garlic.
  2. Now add the carrots, mushrooms and coriander and fry for a couple of minutes.
  3. Stir in the rinsed spinach and water. Add salt and pepper and cook for about 15-20 minutes until the spinach is cooked.
  4. Switch off the stove.
  5. Stir in the chopped coriander leaves and minced garlic if using. Now, hot soup is ready to serve.

Workstation Exercises for a Healthy Heart

Most of us use a computer and its accessories in our work today and this creates many ergonomic risk factors such as repetitive movements, awkward postures and staying in the same position for a considerable period of time, all of which can trigger muscle pain and strain. The neck, shoulders, wrists and hands are the most affected parts of the body.

It is time we start moving our body at regular intervals in our workplaces as prevention against work-related aches and pains. In fact, the branch of medicine that addresses such work-related health issues is called Occupational Health.

In this post, I would like to share with you some “Workstation Exercises”. Did you know how important it is to do exercises in your workplace? Yes, it is extremely important and gaining a lot of attention globally! It is proven to reduce the stress in your joints and improve flexibility, thereby indirectly helping you perform better in your work and achieve superior results. Also, cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke that are claiming so many of our young peoples’ lives can be completely avoided by being fit both in and out of the office!

Now, let’s begin the desktop exercises. Here are 10 easy and quick movements that you can do at your workstations…

1. Eye exercise

Keeping the back and neck straight and the head still, look as high as possible, look up and down and rotate your eyes. Repeat this sequence 10 times without moving the head, as shown in the picture here.

2. Head turns

Turn your head to the left side to look over the left shoulder and hold for 10 seconds and again move to the other side and repeat both 10 times.

3. Chin tucks

Raise the head to straighten the neck. Tuck the chin in and upwards creating a double chin. Hold for 10 seconds if possible. Repeat 10 times.4. Shoulder rolls

Stand straight with your arms by your sides and keep your legs shoulder-width apart. Circle the shoulders forward and backwards. Repeat this 10 times.

5. Wrist stretch

Interlace your fingers, face your palms outward, and straighten arms in front. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 10 times.

6. Chest stretch ;

Place your hands behind your head, and squeeze your shoulder blades together and repeat these steps 10 times.7. Back arching

Stand straight and support your lower back with your hands, gently arch back and hold for 5 to 10 seconds and relax. Repeat as often as possible.

8. Side stretch

Interlace fingers, face your palms outward and straighten your arms above your head. To stretch your sides, slowly lean to the left and then to the right. Hold for 10 seconds and relax. Repeat 10 times.

9. Leg lift

Hold one foot off the floor with your leg straight for 5-10 seconds and relax. Repeat with the other leg and do the cycle for 10 times in each leg.

10. Foot movement 

Hold both feet off the floor and move your feet up and down. Repeat 10 times.

SOME POINTS TO REMEMBER:

·         Take 5 minutes of break at the end of every hour in your workplace

·         Every hour, try to do a few exercises from the above list

·         Avoid sitting for a long time

·         Change your position of work as often as possible

·         Get ergonomic advice from an expert if you have chronic pains

All the above exercises are extremely easy to do in your workplace; it only takes a little bit of motivation and probably some team effort to get this going regularly in your office. Once you start, you will immediately notice the change in your wellbeing and you can also prevent long-term disability by being consistent. Combined with a healthy diet and a positive attitude you can stay healthy and be productive at work for a very long time. If you need personal assistance please feel free to contact our team at Cardiac Wellness Institute (www.cardiacwellnessinstitute.com).