Movement and Blood Pressure Linked
High blood pressure is a widespread issue, that the WHO estimates it affects more than a fifth of adults across the world. The American Heart Association believes that a third of Americans have high blood pressure. Though it’s such a common problem, many people don’t know much about it. Even when we get our blood pressure measured at the doctor, lots of us don’t know what the fraction means, and how to interpret it relative to our health.
If your blood pressure is 140/90, it means you have high blood pressure. The top number is systolic, measuring the pressure at which your heart beats and pumps blood out through the vessels. The bottom diastolic number measures the heart between beats when it refills. The higher the systolic number is relative to the diastolic number, the higher your blood pressure.
What Is High Blood Pressure?
High blood pressure, also called hypertension, means the pressure in your arteries is higher than it should be. It is a sign that your heart is working too hard, and left untreated, can cause a heart attack, cardiovascular disease, or even strokes and aneurysms.
There are a few factors that tend to coincide with high blood pressure, and your weight is one of them. If you’re overweight, your heart needs to work a lot harder to get even more blood, oxygen, and nutrients to your whole body. The more blood you need, the more your heart manufactures. The veins and circulatory system stay the same size—though they can stiffen with obsesity—but the volume of blood passing through increases, which raises the pressure. It’s like increasing the water flow through a garden hose—the heavier the flow, the higher the pressure on the other side.
Sedentary Blood Pressure
There’s a conspicuous link between a sedentary lifestyle and high blood pressure. One study found that 60% of its volunteers with high blood pressure lived a sedentary lifestyle, defined by lack of exercise and physical conditioning.
Exercise is critical in reducing blood pressure, and work might be the best place for it. Any kind of exercise makes your veins more flexible and gets your blood flowing freely. But it turns out that short bursts of scattered exercise might be more effective at lowering blood pressure than longer, more intensive, isolated workouts. One study found that the blood pressure readings of overweight volunteers were quite unhealthy when sitting for eight hours a day, and improved substantially when they stood up for ten minutes every hour.
This is exciting news because the fitness team from Zen Space Desks told us lowering your blood pressure doesn’t have to mean gym memberships or mile-long jogs, if exercise isn’t for you. All you have to do is stand for a few minutes every thirty minutes or hour, and the rest is a bonus. Take a break and take a walk, or switch periodically between sitting and standing. Much of what you need to take care of your high blood pressure can be accomplished at the office, so there’s no reason not to take care of your health—especially when all you need to do is stand up!