Exercise
is Medicine

JULY NEWS LETTER

“Movement is a medicine for creating change in a person's physical, emotional, and mental states.”
Carol Welch

Hypertension (High Blood Pressure) and Exercise:
Blood pressure (BP) refers to the pressure in the arteries when the left ventricle – the main pumping chamber of the heart — is at maximal contraction (systole) and relaxation (diastole). BP is usually presented as two numbers: the higher, systolic BP (ideally 120 mmHg) and the lower diastolic BP (ideally 80 mmHg). These values represent an estimation of the pressure that the organs are exposed to. Hypertension may not always cause any symptoms. Monitoring BP is achieved by using BP devices. Hypertension is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease, heart failure, cardiovascular events and early mortality.

Blood Pressure Category
Systolic BP (mmHg)
Diastolic BP (mmHg)
Normal
<120
<80
High Normal
120 - 139
80 - 89
Grade 1 Hypertension (Mild)
140 - 159
90 - 99
Grade 2 Hypertension (Moderate)
160 - 179
100 - 109
Grade 3 Hypertension (Severe)
>180
>110

Why is exercise important?
Regular exercise reduces blood pressure. Scientific studies have shown that, if systolic BP is reduced by only 5 mmHg, death from stroke decreases by 14% and death from coronary heart disease (blocking of the blood vessels that supply the heart) decreases by 9%. These results alone emphasise why regular exercise is an important first step in preventing and treating hypertension.

It is normal for BP to fluctuate during exercise. Systolic BP increases as exercise intensity increases, because the heart works harder to pump more oxygenated blood to the muscles. Some people have an abnormally high spike in BP when they exercise, which is associated with higher risk for future cardiovascular events and is probably an early indicator of poorly controlled BP. Low BP during exercise may also signal serious problems and requires investigation. Regular physical activity is the first treatment recommended to lower BP and improve cardiovascular health, both in the general population and in those with hypertension. Importantly, exercise is usually safe and beneficial whether or not BP-lowering medication is used.

Dyslipidemia and Exercise:
Dyslipidemia refers to abnormal levels of blood lipids that carry fat around the body. The most common dyslipidemias are high blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, high levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. A blood test to establish a lipid profile is used to diagnose the condition. Management of dyslipidemia is important for people with, or at risk of, cardiovascular disease. The risk of developing a heart problem increases with unfavorable lipid profiles.

How does exercise help?
Management of dyslipidemia aims to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events. Even the smallest changes in unfavorable lipid profiles, can reduce risks of cardiovascular problems. Management of cardiovascular risk should center on lifestyle changes, including taking regular exercise, improving the diet and reducing body fat. Regular exercise lowers the risk of heart disease and considerably reduces cardiovascular risk. Studies show that regular aerobic exercise can reduce triglycerides by about 11%. Progressive high-intensity resistance training (weight training) alone improves lipid profiles. It is highly recommended that patients with known or suspected cardiovascular disease, metabolic syndrome or diabetes, people with a family history of heart attacks, people with high blood pressure, men aged over 45 years or women aged over 55 years and people who have not been doing regular exercise, start with an exercise program under the guidance and supervision of a qualified Biokineticist.

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