Ringing in the New Year
Well is fast approaching, and at this time of the year we typically think about what kind of goals we want to set for ourselves and to work on once the New Year arrives.
Generally the most popular resolutions are inspired by a desire to take better care of our health and our bodies, especially after the excesses which so often accompany the Festive Season. So typically you will find such resolutions as quitting smoking, losing weight and eating a healthier diet amongst the top 6 or 7 choices.
As far as health goes, I find this is a great opportunity to take stock and to see how well my efforts at managing blood pressure naturally are going, and if there is still something I can do to help keep my numbers as close to the ideal normal range as possible.
Of course, thanks to the release of the new blood pressure guidelines, which came out in November and which redefined what now constitutes hypertension, it is becoming even more difficult to meet those targets, since now 120/80 and above has been reclassified as Hypertension stage 1.
Well, who doesn’t love a challenge, and as someone whose average BP readings are in the 125/86 range, which before was considered not exactly ideal, and in the prehypertensive range, I have still got some work to do.
So my New Year’s resolution is to re-double my efforts on finding more natural approaches to help my BP stay on track and if possible to find more all natural remedies for high blood pressure. And while I am at it, I am going to take a closer look at the strategies, I am already using to see if some further fine tuning is needed.
End of Year Health Review
For any project it is always a good idea every now and again to stop and take stock of how things are going. And what better time than at year end?
So far my own personal approach for managing my BP as I get older, which in part has evolved from the research and learning acquired through the blog posts on this website, has been to focus on
- Diet and Supplementation
- Exercise and Activity levels
- Stress Management strategies
- Staying engaged in community activity to nurture social, emotional and spiritual needs.
This last one is important since I am a retiree, so don’t have that kind of daily engagement that working with colleagues involves!
I am still convinced that making changes to my diet was the single best thing I could do for my blood pressure, and this is why about one third of my posts have been focussed around this topic. If you want your body to function optimally, you simply must provide it with a constant source of high quality fuel.
Click here for my review of the DASH diet (the diet I like the best)
This really is common sense, but somehow many people overlook this fact and still fail to realize that fast food, usually washed down with sugary beverages, and highly processed foods contain many substances which in the long run will promote poor health.
Yes, these foods may be convenient and really appeal to our tastebuds … but at what cost? I think we are seeing only too clearly that years of bad eating habits are having their effect on the collective health of people in North America (and increasingly around the world) . We are now facing surging rates of obesity and type 2 diabetes, to name just two examples of poor health due to poor dietary choices!
I am also going to try at least 2 different types of dietary supplements as a support to my diet to see if they can also make a significant difference. The first one will be the Peak BP Platinum. And the second will be a Nitric Oxide supplement - This one I have not chosen yet!
Exercise and Movement
My exercise regime of going to work out 2 -3 times a week is going to stay in place. However, where I can make improvements is by making sure that I am active and moving around several times a day, not just getting my exercise in one single block of time then being inactive the remainder of the time. The problem with doing a 45 - 60 minute work out is that this tells your mind (and your body) that you have done your activity for the day, and thus speaking personally anyway encourages me to become lazy the rest of the day.
But research shows that the type of activity which benefits the cardiovascular system and thus helps with BP control the best is short bursts of regular movements. This is the type of activity our ancestors were engaged in and their bodies were designed to do …
And thus working out for an hour and then sitting the rest of the day is definitely not ideal. Sure the work out is beneficial, but its effects only last for several hours. So, ongoing activity as simple as walking to get the mail, using the stairs instead of the elevator, parking the car at the far end of the mall parking lot and so on, will get the job done. And taking frequent activity breaks (sounds funny, doesn’t it?) from sitting should be in there as well!
So this year I am going to be more aware of my normal activity levels and ensure that I don’t sit for prolonged periods of time. My post entitled
takes a more detailed look at this subject.
Note: the photo below was taken after I had spent 2 hours sitting whilst I was working on a blog post on my computer!
The BP reading is almost 10 mm/Hg higher than my average Systolic reading
and 7mm/Hg higher than my average Diastolic reading…
This just goes to show how bad for your blood pressure prolonged periods of sitting can be!
Keeping the lid on Stress
Yes, that’s right… some stress is necessary in life, but ongoing and unresolved stress will cause harm in the long run and drive your BP readings up. So again I am going to look at more techniques which can act as stress relievers.
Restorative yoga is one such option, as too group meditation, both of which I let go of last year as my BP results were improving. It’s time to revisit these options.
One way to keeping the lid on stress is to have a strong support circle of friends and family with whom you can share your problems. There is an old saying that a ‘problem shared is a problem halved‘ and this is why staying engaged in social activities, whether that be a social or support group, having some very close friends to go out and have coffee with or volunteering in some way can all help manage stress. Research is showing that expressing your feelings to someone else is a healthy way to dealing effectively with stress. And don’t forget to laugh often and long, as this is a great stress reducer, too! It is by no coincidence that we call it a hearty laugh!!
Here’s to a Happy New Year!
Well, as draws to a close I would just like to encourage you to take stock of how you are doing with your BP issues. And to consider what other natural approaches you may be able to check out in the New Year.
This may be a real challenge for some, I know, … but don’t give up, as there are many natural approaches to treating blood pressure, and so often it is just a case of finding the right combination which will work for you.
Of course, I am going to continue to look for new alternatives as well as progresses and hope to share these with you in my upcoming blogs.
For now, I would like to wish you a healthy and very happy New Year!