Relieving the pressure: How does exercise affect your blood pressure

Relieving the pressure: How does exercise affect your blood pressure

Before we begin, I just wanted to pop these stats in front of you….
·         34% of Australians (over 18) are have high blood pressure (BP) – that’s about 6 million people
·         4.1 million Australians have uncontrolled or untreated hypertension
So, let’s answer a few commonly heard questions around iNform:

1)
 How does a bout of exercise affect my BP?
A single episode of exercise is able to reduce BP post exercise. The magnitude (−2 to −12) and duration (4 to 16 hours) vary considerably between individuals as the environment, exercise prescribed, duration of exercise and genetic components can all affect change.
Let’s get scientific for a second:
Systolic BP (the first number) refers to how much pressure goes through the arteries as the heart is contracting. We would love it to be around 120.
Diastolic BP (the second and typically smaller number) refers to the arterial pressure during the relaxation phase of the heartbeat. The recommended value is approximately 80.
When we begin exercising our systolic BP increases because we need to pump more blood around the body to deliver oxygen and get rid of waste products. Our heart rate increases and the overall amount of blood moving through the arteries increases.  Therefore the pressure the blood creates on the arteries also increases. However BP does not usually fly off the charts because our arteries dilate to allow the extra blood through and as such the resistance (and the pressure) decreases. Think of it like opening doors wider to allow more people to shop during the post-Christmas sales.  So we would tend to expect a gradual increase in systolic BP until we hit a plateau at our exercise peak. Interestingly our diastolic does not often change much except in static exercises like wall sits.
How does it work?
This happens through a variety of ways including increased hormonal activity, decrease in heart rate and nerve activity (sympathetic  – due to decrease in circulating catecholamines).
However, given the many factors in our body that help regulate our BP, it is still proving difficult to identify a single mechanism for this drop. What is important though is the beneficial effects on the body!
2) Can regular exercise help me control my high BP
The big new is yes! Regular physical exercise has been recommended for the prevention and treatment of hypertension. We have had a range of clients who begin to exercise regularly, decrease their BP and thus the decrease or even cease the medication they are on (based on GP’s clinical decision).
3) What exercise is best for individuals with high BP?
Decrements in BP have been widely found in a majority of aerobic exercise including walking, running, cycling. Resistance training is a little more controversial is it tends to exhibit greater BPs during the exercise, however it does exhibit post exercise BP decrements. Each training mode produces different effects on the body so it highly encouraged to completing both modes.
4) How long should I exercise for?
The acute decrease in BP has been observed after as little as 10 minutes and as long as 170 min of exercise, although the majority of studies have used exercise lasting between 20 and 60 min. So if time is a factor, you still gain benefits from a short bout of exercise.
To make long term changes, research shows that there seems to be a positive association to 3-5 days of exercise for approximately 30-60mins at greater than 65% intensity levels. However, just remember any type and duration will have a positive response when compared with no exercise.
5) What is the best way to work out my BP repose to exercise?
Here at iNform, if we feel it is required we measure BP pre and post (sometimes during). This happens over a course of sessions and allows us to monitor the responses to the exercise prescription. It also allows us to change intensity, duration and mode to see how these effect individuals. We find different individuals respond better to different modes so we take an individual approach to determining it.
6) What risks are there of exercising with high BP?
Both aerobic or resistance training can increase systolic BP, so ensuring that this rise does not exceed approximately is important. If systolic BP rises greater than 250 mmHg and/or diastolic BP >115 mmHg during exercise, the training session should be terminated.
Ways to decrease risk:
a) Ensuring steady breathing during exercise is important to decrease build-up of pressure in arteries. This is especially evident in resistance training
b) Completing dynamic movements rather than static exercises (such as wall sits) are important to decrease risk of excessive BP
c) Upper body exercises tend to lead to an increase BP when compared to lower body exercise, however this is not saying no upper body exercise (just be mindful).
d) Ensuring a progressive build-up of intensity during warm up and slow down when cooling down to reduce risk of sudden drops or increases.
Mild_elevation_of_blood_pressure
Need motivation to move? Woof Woof!

Need motivation to move? Woof Woof!

Recently, my partner and I embarked on one of life’s biggest events (well in my eyes anyway). We took the leap and became the proud parents to a bouncing baby Border Collie, Lulu. Every time I tell some this (as I shove a million photos of her in front of their face) they give me the same look and say “wow… they have a lot of energy. Good luck!”. They are right on that one. Border Collies (like many dogs) usually need at least 15-20 mins of running or brisk walking or they become restless, bored and generally destructive. So why did we get this breed?
Apart from the gorgeous eyes, happy personality, we wanted something to motivate us to exercise. Motivation is a very interesting internal process, as everyone has different ideals/goals that drive us to achieve our current desires. These motivations ebb and flow as we move through life. They are never set in stone.
When discussing the drive to exercise with clients, they often are told by a health professional, family member or even the TV that they should move or lose weight. This is called “extrinsic motivation”. It comes from outside. On the flip side, intrinsic motivation is the drive within you to accomplish a goal or task. You choose to complete a task because it has personal meaning for you and gives you pleasure or satisfaction. In simple terms, “you want to” rather than “you feel like you have to.” Intrinsic motivation has been shown to have a greater long term effect on exercise retention. We need to find our real “why!”
I have never been a runner or walker for no reason. I don’t have that deep love of it; I would rather play team sports. I have that “have to” approach to running and long work days tend to result in an exercise-less day and I feel dreadful (and generally not as happy).
This is where Lulu, the border collie, comes in! Buying a dog means that if we want to have a happy “fur-baby” and keep our garden in one piece, exercise is the way to go! She will be our little personal trainer. Motivating us by the wag of the tail, the joy she gets from running and the possible holes we want to avoid in the backyard. How can you say no to this face!
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Now I’m not saying go out and buy the most active dog you can find, but having a dog can really be a win-win situation.

 

Are ‘YOU’OK?

Are ‘YOU’OK?

One is in awe of all the Facebook love; to promote the awareness of mental health. ruokWith all the ‘likes’, sharing and so forth (bless our nucleus accumbens!). The second Thursday of September 2016 marks  “Are you OK day?”. One doesn’t need to  explain the definition.

But; Perhaps flip the coin, directing attention on the self. Why the self?. When was the last time you got in touch with your inner meta-cognitive dialogue? I will touch on reaching out at the end….However, placing emphasis on the self first, can then enable the opportunity to reach out to others.

Three words…

Vulnerability

Shame

Compassion

To be vulnerable, one must surrender shame. When shame is surrendered, one can be ready to show compassion. When feeling numb, self cannot connect, because self is dis..connected. The same can be said with mental health. Mental health is much more than depletion of neurotransmitters & a lottery of SSRIs & MAOIs!

To further delve, please do follow the links above to find out more…

Let’s say that self is ready to reach out to others in need. Trying to say/think of the right words can be incredibly difficult, especially if the topic is sensitive. However; listening, reading facial expressions, feeling ones pain (without taking on the burden) and touch (within respect), are all powerful non-verbal tools, which can assist the compassionate empath…YOU!

My dream for the future, is that humanity won’t need a day of recognition to remind us all to be self compassionate, emotionally intelligent, empathetic… Friend, husband, wife, brother, sister, colleague and neutral.

As Donald Hebb once postulated…

“neurons that fire together, wire together”

Repetition, repetition, repetition!

However; it is wonderful to see so many organisations getting behind mental health & starting the conversation.

Be well, be kind & BE compassionate🙂

James Smith

Mastering Gravity (Part 2): How do you improve your balance?

Mastering Gravity (Part 2): How do you improve your balance?

Mastering Gravity: How do you improve your balance?

Tripping-overIn a previous blog, we discussed how our lack of play and challenge has slowly led to decrements in our balance. Research in the Age and Ageing Journal (2013) has proven that less active lifestyles appear to accelerate loss of proprioceptive acuity and thus would contribute to loss of functional independence and increased falls.

So the question we are to ponder is…. Can we improve our balance after years of not using it?

The easy answer is yes! So how does it work? The best way of understanding how we can approach this issue is looking at the science behind it. To improve overall balance we need to ensure our body is skilled at interpreting what is happening to our body (through taking in sensory input) and then how we can try maintain a position of safety (motor output). For example, as we walk down the street and we trip on a paver. We first need to recognise that we are falling. Physiologically this sensory input is acquired a few ways:

  •  Vestibular system within the inner ear (the sensations of body rotation, gravitation and movement)
  • Somatosensory systems (conscious perception of touch, pressure, pain, temperature, position, movement, and vibration, which arise from the muscles, joints, skin, and fascia)
  • Visual system (seeing where our body position is in space)

These signals then travel through nervous system and the brain or spinal chord either create conscious or unconscious motor output which generates a movement. In our example, this would result in a very large sidestep to prevent us from falling. To perform the request we need muscular strength, power and co-ordination.

Training the sensory input and motor output:

  1. Proprioception exercises: This allows us to train us to recognise where our body is in space
  2. Co-ordination exercises: This allows us to create the desired movement with the appropriate muscles (to save the day)
  3. Strength exercises: This allows us the necessary strength to produce the actions

If you would like more information regarding your ability to master your own gravity, I am more than happy to have a chat.

Do you master Gravity: Falls prevention through exercise

Do you master Gravity: Falls prevention through exercise

I don’t think I have enough fingers and toes to count the times I have heard clients utter the phrases, “now I am getting older, my balance is getting worse” and “I am scared of falling so I can’t do the things I used to”

child playingIt is true, there are age related changes to our balance (reaction time, equilibrium and proprioception). But these physiological changes are compounded by the fact that we stop challenging facets of our balance as we mature. When we are young, we play on all sorts of objects. We climb trees, jump over puddles, dodge our friends and even hang upside down on the playgrounds. Children are unknowingly challenging their limitations every time they play. This brings about improvements in important aspects of balance.

Maintaining our body’s centre of gravity (balance) depends on co-ordination of several sensory systems within each of our bodies:

  1. The vestibular system (regulates equilibrium/head position)
  2. The visual system (spatial location relative to objects through vision)
  3. The somatosensory system (information from skin and joints to sense position and movement relative to surfaces and different body parts relative to each other)

As we leave our childhood into the monotony of adulthood – cooking, cleaning, working, we typically stop playing. Once we hit our 40’s, unless we specifically engage in different types of sports/activities, we tend to avoid or completely ignore actions such as jumping, hopping, balancing on a single leg. We stop practicing this co-ordination of systems….

The age-old saying is true… Use it or lose it!

Want the good news! Yes, we can improve these systems, much like we can with strength or aerobic fitness. We just need to challenge ourselves!

 

Tune in for part 2 on Mastering your Gravity if you are interested on HOW you can improve your balance.

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