Taking Care of Your Blood Pressure

As we move into International Fitness Week, NRG Xpress Little Island are giving Free Blood Pressure Checks today in our consultation rooms.

Our blood pressure is simply the amount of work that our hearts have to do to pump our blood around the body. Not looking after your health through nutrition or regular exercise, can cause an increase in blood pressure that can cause challenging health problems down the line. And on the other hand, not knowing what heart rate zones we should be targeting can unfortunately see you putting in time and effort in the gym and not getting results at the end.

Here are some “easy to follow” steps that will help you calculate your ideal heart-rate training zone.

Calculate Your Maximum Heart Rate

The easiest way to do this is a simple paper-and-pencil calculation. Subtract your age from 220. The result is an age-predicted maximum beats per minute.

It’s important to note that this method does not take into account your fitness level or inherited genes, which can make your true maximum heart rate 10 to 20 beats per minute higher or lower than the age-predicted number.

A second method to calculate your maximum heart rate is to have an exercise tolerance or stress test. This usually is supervised by a physician and performed in a hospital or clinical setting in three-minute stages, during which the speed and incline continue to increase in an effort to elevate your heart rate until it climbs to its highest level.

What is high blood pressure, exactly?

High blood pressure (or hypertension) usually has no symptoms. If it’s not treated or kept under control, it is one of the major risk factors for heart disease and stroke. Treatment and detection is possible but it starts with you.

Blood pressure is measured by two numbers

The first number records blood pressure when the pressure is at its highest i.e. when the heart muscle squeezes out the blood – this is called systolic pressure.

The second number is when the heart relaxes and allows the blood to flow back into the heart – this is called diastolic pressure.

What’s the normal level?

The normal level of blood pressure is usually about 120 (systolic) over 80 (diastolic). If your blood pressure is 140 over 90 or higher (or 140 over 80 if you have diabetes) you should discuss this reading with your doctor.

Why is blood pressure important

The higher your blood pressure, the greater your risk of heart attack or stroke, heart failure, kidney failure and poor circulation in your legs. These problems can be avoided if your blood pressure is controlled.

Over half of all adults in Ireland over 45 years of age have high blood pressure. About 4 in every 5 men and 2 in every 3 women with high blood pressure are not being treated. Keep reading and we’ll help change that.

If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means your blood pressure is consistently higher than it should be.

Are there any signs or causes?

There is often no single cause of high blood pressure. A number of factors can combine to raise blood pressure, and high blood pressure tends to run in families.

Someone with high blood pressure may look and feel well, and rarely has any symptoms. The only way to find out if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured.

As we grow older, our blood pressure also increases. Also, being overweight, drinking too much alcohol, eating too much sodium (found in salt) and not eating enough fresh fruit and vegetables may lead to an increase in blood pressure.

However, contrary to popular opinion, high blood pressure is not a disease of the nervous or highly strung person – nor is it caused by a stressful lifestyle.

In a very small number of people, there is a specific underlying cause for high blood pressure such as kidney problems, adrenal gland tumours and thyroid problems. Treating these conditions may result in your blood pressure returning to normal.

When & how to check my blood pressure

Try to get your blood pressure checked regularly and ask what your reading is. The only way to look after “and to know” if you have high blood pressure is to have it measured. If it is high, ask your doctor how best to bring it down.

If you are over 30, it’s best to have your blood pressure checked every year. If your blood pressure is borderline high (around 140 over 90), you’ll need to get it checked more often by a doctor or nurse.

Many pharmacies are now offering blood pressure checks and some do 24-hour blood pressure monitoring. Sometimes your doctor will suggest you buy a reliable blood pressure monitor and measure your blood pressure regularly at home.

Monitoring Blood Pressure at the gym

Knowing your limits when training on cardio machines in the gym is a big factor we need to be aware of. Taking your heart rate at certain stages of your workout can keep you aware and help you stay in your designated area.

As you can see in the chart above, the workout level change due to a persons age. This chart is around 80% accurate as it doesn’t take into account the fitness levels of a certain individual or health issues a person may have.

The more we train on the cardio machines the stronger our Cardiovascular System becomes. Because of this in order for you to stay within a certain workout level: Intensity Level. Incline, or Speed will need to be increased over time.

For more information on health, training, and workouts, email me at Denis.Reynor90@gmail.com

Happy Training