Have you met Mr. Strunz?
Chances are that you have not. Chances are that he might have just taken over and you simply saw his good behind racing by. Well, I have met him though. At least in books. Mr. Strunz is a German health expert and great advocate of running. His books are bestsellers and have prompted millions of people to get their booties on and get their butts off the couch.
It has also affected me. Running indeed is a beautiful experience, it frees your spirit, drives your endorphin levels up and gets you in shape.
When we suffer from high blood pressure though, we should be more cautious with the well meant recommendation:
EXERCISE, EXERCISE, Exercise!
Unfortunately, this recommendation might turn out to be deadly. If you suffer from high blood pressure the following should definitely be avoided:
1) Start running without any prior training. It is too risky that your heart or your arteries are not able to cope with this type of workload all of a sudden.
2) Running, walking, etc. while talking to someone. You should always exercise while concentrating on your breathing. Your heart needs oxygen and you should never get out of breath. By rhythmic breathing in accordance with your steps you will make sure that you breathe correctly.
3) Playing tennis, squash on a competitive basis. Most heart attacks occur on the tennis court. The reason being the sudden rise of the stress hormone adrenalin which causes our blood pressure to rise. As a result your coronary arteries might not stand the pressure or they might be definitely clogged – causing a heart failure. Please continue reading “Miracle of arteries”!
4) Pumping up the jam. When you are lifting heavy weight, you build so much pressure up inside you, that again, you might be suffering from a rupture of one of your arteries. Additionally, gyms are usually devoid of oxygen. Thus, you might go into an oxygen deficit, which causes your heart to make up for the lack of it by pumping harder and more frequently.
5) Doing strenuous cardiovascular exercises without prior training in a gym. Again, you are overworking your heart while your blood pressure is at highest levels. Also here, usually gyms are devoid of vitally needed oxygen to keep your blood thin.
6) Yoga! Yoga is great to calm down and relax. Yet, asanas or poses which involve upside down positions like a head stand put too much pressure on your heart! Rather go for the relaxing asanas – this is where you get the most of!
7) Swimming! Swimming is great. However, if you suffer from hypertension you should not hold your breath for a long period of time. Again, this causes the overall pressure in your body to rise. As a consequence, the pressure on your heart will be too much and your blood pressure will certainly rise. The same holds true for diving!
Now, what does this mean? Yupee, you knew all along that exercising is bad for your health? NOOOP! Of course not! It has been scientifically proven that exercise helps you to reduce primary hypertension. It just takes the right exercise and the right amount of exercise.
This is how you get the most benefit for your heart through workout without risking your life:
1) First of all, you should always exercise with conscious breathing. Follow the rhythm of your steps, two or three steps inhale, the next two or three steps exhale. A nice way of getting into the rhythm is to have a song in your mind.
2) When you exercise, start by walking. Yet, do it every day! Start with 10 minutes – every day! Enjoy your surrounding, enjoy the movement. Never go over your limit, that is getting out of breath or feeling exhausted! After a week go on with 20 minutes! That`s it! Measure your blood pressure and your pulse 10 minutes after! Write it down!
3) If you are in shape and you think you can do walking or running, do the same. Start slowly, do not talk, just concentrate of the rhythm of your breath. The way it flows through your body, the way it nourishes and trains your heart – SLOWLY! Increase the distance slowly. You should always think that you do this to train your heart and your arteries. This is just for you! Be patient with yourself! Other people are looking at you because you are sooooo slow? – Wow, you are faster than the snail next to you. And …who cares? You do this for your own health benefit!
4) Try to inhale through your nose! In the beginning this is difficult, I know this from experience. However, you get way more air and oxygen inhaled than by short breathing through your mouth. If you can not do it in the beginning, breath through your mouth and try again. The more often you practice, the easier it gets.
5) Take breaks! If you feel, that you are feeling tired or exhausted or out of breath, walk slowly and pick up again. Nobody is taking a record of your performance. This is just for YOU! You should never get out of breath!
6) Enjoy what you are doing! Always think how your heart benefits from the gradual increase in training.
7) Please walk alone or take your dog (a slow one). It is utterly important that you concentrate on your breathing. Other people will distract you from doing this!
8) Swimming, hiking, yoga, biking are great exercises to train your arteries and heart as long as you follow the rules above: Conscious breathing, slow beginning, no competition, do not overdo it, increase slowly, but do it regularly!
After a few months, if you have been following this program you will notice, that you want more and can do more! Then you can increase the length and intensity of your exercises – slowly!
Running like Mr. Strunz, playing Tennis, Squash, doing mountain biking etc. are great for healthy people! You are doing great when you are training your heart! And this is what you want, to lower your blood pressure, isn`t it? The results will surprise you when you measure your blood pressure regularly as described at Check-Understand-Change!
Don`t listen to anyone who tries to tell you that just by doing “some” exercise you will get rid of your hypertension! Be critical!
Most of all, enjoy your new healthy life with lower blood pressure!
Don`t be shy to leave a comment or share your experiences!
Love your heart!