Have you ever read an article or heard someone say that ‘watching any sports activity can be bad for your health as it increases your risk of having a High Blood Pressure?’ This statement is not entirely false because when we get very anxious while watching our favorite teams play on TV or in the stadium, our heart rates spike up and the heart starts pumping more blood. The blood pumped then isn’t passed on to any other muscles which would have been the case if we were exercising. But since we’re either sitting or standing and are not really exercising, blood piles up and is left not properly circulated. This impeded flow is what causes the blood pressure to rise.
On Tuesday the 10th of October 2017, I was at the National Orthopaedic Hospital Lagos, and I had a talk on this topic with a specialist, Dr. Obi. She checked my blood pressure and asked me what exercise activities I engage in, and I replied ‘Push ups and sit ups mostly.’ This was when the conversation really took off. She explained that there are two main types of physical activities; Isometric and Anaerobic.
There are some exercises that are on their own, not good for your health, especially if you’re working on reducing your blood pressure.
Isometric (Static) activities can help you burn fat gradually and build muscles, but such exercises can raise blood pressure while exercising. In some cases, the changes in blood pressure can be very quick and large and this can put extra strain on the heart and blood vessels. This is because this form of activity involves the continuous constriction of just one set of muscles (e.g the biceps during push-ups), the heart beats harder and pumps more blood, but only a small number of muscles are being used. Because of this, there is less space available for the blood to flow in. This results in a rapid rise in blood pressure and extra strain on the heart and blood vessels. Examples of isometric exercise are weight lifting, push-ups, boxing etc. Engaging in isometric exercises alone will only increase your risk of having a high blood pressure, but combining them with Aerobic excercises is your best chance at lowering BP.
Aerobic (Dynamic/Cardio) exercises are activities that use a large number of muscles when engaged in and is very good for our heart and blood vessels as it gives them a good workout and a good stretch, helping them to become more flexible and efficient. The heart pumps the blood harder, raising blood pressure, but the blood flows into a large number of muscles (muscles involved in the excercise). So you’ve got to do the exercises right, giving more space for the blood to flow in so the blood pressure does not go very high. In fact, regular aerobic activities will help to lower your blood pressure over time. Examples of aerobic exercises are anything that uses a large number of muscles in frequent metric movements, such as swimming, cycling and brisk (quick, fast) walking.
So as you take out time to watch your favorite team play, remember to hit the gym or your personal home set up, and excercise those muscles to keep your heart and blood vessels in perfect health.
How long should you excercise?
Before you start out any excercise routine, if you have a medical condition or you’re at risk of one, you should contact your doctor and let them know your plans, so they can advice you appropriately. Drugs can be very effective when taken alongside some physical activities.
If you’re a beginner or you’ve not exercised in a long while, it’s best you start out gradually, say 15mins a day and work up to 30mins every day. If you are not sure the procedures or the kinds of excercises to engage in, contact a trainer.