HOW TO LOWER BLOOD PRESSURE BY WALKING
Walking is your 1st step to a lower blood pressure and it is the easiest and simplest form of exercise. Here is your 5 step plan how to start
I developed a habit of walking every day as a way to fight anxiety and high blood pressure. My hypertension developed as a result of work related stress when I was 48. I took to heart advice from my doctor and everyday walking has become a first step in my journey from a stressed out executive to a competitive triathlon athlete in my mid 50s. If you are interested in scientifically proven benefits of walking please check out references at the bottom of this post.
“Walking is the simplest form of exercise and most people enjoy it. However to maximize health benefits walking has to become an everyday habit. To make it happen you need a plan”
Build a plan
Here is a 5 step plan which I built for myself after a heart to heart discussion with my doctor. It worked for me and hopefully will work for you.
1. Write a top reason why you will walk every single day.
Make it very visible. Like a note on your fridge or wallpaper for your phone. May be you would like to feel more energy, sleep better or lose a few pounds. In my case it was simple: the doctor said that if I do not start exercising I am likely to end up in an Emergency Room with a stroke or heart attack because of high blood pressure. I really got scared and I certainly did NOT want this to happen.
2. Make a decision on HOW LONG will be your first walks and stick with it.
If you just starting - talk to your doctor. She may recommend that you need to start from just 25 or 50 steps a day. That’s exactly what my father did when he was recovering from a stroke in a hospital. He started from just a few steps with nurses and family helping him and built from there. He in his late 80s now and he made it a rule for himself to walk for several miles every day, even when it is raining or snowing. That is what the US Department of Health and Human Services say: “For substantial health benefits, adults should do at least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity” activities.
3. Make walking an everyday habit
The only way to make it a habit is to walk EVERY day. No exception. If it is raining outside and you allow yourself to miss a walk just one day it may lead to another miss and then another one and so on. Experts say that new habits stick easier if they follow immediately an already established habit. Decide WHEN you will work. For example, my wife and myself go for a walk right after dinner. It helps us to digest our meals and clear our minds before going to sleep.
4. Focus on your posture and breathing.
Push with your toes and feel your head moving up and down. Swing your hands, this is great for your spine and joints. Focus on breathing. Inhale deeply on 1-2-3 through the nose and exhale fully on 1-2-3 through the mouse. This focus on breathing creates meditation like effect. It helps to clear your mind and let it do creative work for you in the background.
5. Measure walking progress. As the famous British scientist Lord Kelvin said: “If you can not measure it, you can not improve it.” At the most basic level your smartphone will count your steps, distance, walking time and calories burned. Popular smartwatches like Apple Watch, Fitbit and many others are capable of tracking heart rate. This is great because now we can learn how our bodies respond to exercise. If you stick with your walking habit for couple months gradually increasing distances and pace (in agreement with your doctor of course) you should observe reduction in your resting heart rate. This is one of the most visible indicators that your cardiovascular system works more efficiently and you get healthier.
Check out my YouTube channel for other tips to lower high blood pressure and anxiety or explore scientific papers below which explain the health benefits of exercise.
Why do you like walking? Please share your story on my Facebook page to encourage others
1. Physical activity and telomere length in U.S. men and women
2. Physical Inactivity and Mortality Risk