Why Blood Pressure Matters

Every Wednesday, vegan personal trainer, LaQuesha McClain offers health and fitness advice for busy families.

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Ok, I’m gonna get a little teach-y today. So just bear with me. This is important!

The function of blood: to transport oxygen to the lungs and all other tissues in the body, to transport nutrients and hormones throughout the body, and to deliver waste products to the kidneys to be filtered.

Your blood pressure is an indicator of how hard your heart is working to pump this blood throughout your body. If you have high blood pressure, it means that your heart is working harder to push that blood around versuses someone with low blood pressure. And you want to make sure that you are not over taxing your heart. You only get one and it has a pretty important role!

There are many factors that can go into high blood pressure. Some are genetic, but MANY are lifestyle CHOICES. Anyone can get HBP, but here are some lifestyle/preventable factors:

  • Blocked arteries. Blood is transported through arteries. But if those arteries are lined with plaque because of fatty food choices, then it is harder to get the bood through. (Think of a water hose with a knot in it. The water pressure is building, but nothing is coming through.)
  • Lack of cardiovascular exercise. Our heart is a muscle and needs to be worked to stay strong. So our sedentary lifestyles are causing our hearts to be weaker.
  • Being overweight or obese. The bigger you are, the more blood is needed to supply the oxygen, nutrients, and hormones through the body. This extra blood creates extra pressure on the arteries.
  • Eating too much salt/sodium. Too much salt in your diet makes you retain water. (Know what it feels like to be bloated?) Well this increases the blood volume in your body, which puts more pressure on your arteries.
  • Smoking. Smoking damages your artery walls, which can cause your arteries to narrow. This will cause HBP. (Second hand smoke may also cause artery damage.)
  • Drinking too much alcohol! Heavy drinking can weaken the heart. A weak heart has to work harder to pump the blood through the body.

There are other factors like age, race, family history. But clearly you cannot control those factors. If you are 50 years old, black, with a family history of HBP, then you better make sure to eat right and exercise! You have to control what you can control and not give in to genetics. Why throw your hands up in defeat like it is inevitable? YOUR lifestyle is YOUR choice alone!

Good luck peeps!