Heart Health - Surprisingly more important than abs
What could possibly be more important than having a six pack?
Well, a lot of things really, but the sheer quantity of ab photos we often see in ‘health’ magazines, would suggest otherwise.
Today I would like to discuss a measurement of health that you no doubt would have heard of, but is rarely emphasised let alone really explained (unless you go looking for the answers).
Sadly it is rarely discussed in the fitness circles on the gram - most likely because it’s hard to take a sexy pic of your butt and refer it back to health blood pressure.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood Pressure is the force that keeps blood flowing through your body. When you measure your blood pressure, you’re essentially measuring the amount of pressure your arteries feel as your heart PUMPS and moves blood around your body.
Now the heart has two roles in one, it needs to pump oxygenated blood throughout the body, and equally de-oxygenated blood from the body back to the lungs. Like all pumps it does this through high and low pressures.
Why is it important?
Simply put if we do not get oxygenated blood throughout the body and de-oxygenated blood to the lungs (for gaseous exchange, the exchange of carbon dioxide and oxygen) then WE DIE.
If that system is compromised by high blood pressure our risk for death and disease increases - quite tremendously in fact.
DID YOU KNOW YOU CAN HAVE VISIBLE ABS AND HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE? YEP! So not all of those people you see with a 6 pack are the pinnacle of health (or even basic optimal function).
Who needs to understand it?
Ah, anyone that has a heart, but particularly those that have come back from the doctor with a high pressure reading - as it’s linked to more dangerous diseases.
How does it work? - OK Imma have to get a little geekier here but it’s in your body too so I kind of think it’s important and worth your attention;
Heart movement has two components - Systole and Diastole
Systolic Pressure readings are the PEAK pressure produced by the contracting ventricles of the heart.
Diastolic Pressure is the pressure in your arteries when the ventricles of the heart relax and suck blood back in.
When looking at your blood pressure the first number refers to your Systolic Reading and the second number refers to your diastolic reading.
Healthy Blood Pressure used to be set at 120/80, however many doctors and experts have lowered the threshold to 115/75.
If your blood pressure reading is 139/89mmHg and above it is considered to be high.
Here’s why it’s really important to not let it get high:
Increases Risk of Heart Attack by potentially accelerating the build-up of plaque on the artery walls (atherosclerosis), clogging blood flow to your heart muscle.
Increases the Risk of Stroke because it can weaken the armies in your brain.
Increases your risk of heart disease if left untreated for long periods of time (aka. Hypertension)
It can also compromise other organs within the body because hey, guess what everything needs blood.
What causes high blood pressure?
According to the heart foundation of Australia the EXACT CAUSE is actually not clear, however various lifestyle conditions and behaviours are known to significantly increase the risk of developing high blood pressure:
Not getting enough physical activity
Drinking more than 2 alcoholic drinks per day
Family history of high blood pressure
So what can you do to reduce it?
Again these suggestions come from the Australian Heart Foundation
Following a healthy diet; reducing high salt and fat intake and eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
Regular physical activity
Limiting your alcohol intake
I’ve removed ‘maintaining a healthy weight’ because as I mentioned earlier you can be lean and still have high blood pressure. While I don’t disagree with the Heart Foundation I think one of the most misleading notions perpetuated by the media in regards to health is this notion of weight - we can find ‘health’ at various different weights and to suggest that someone is or isn’t healthy based on the scales is just too confusing and misses other more pressing aspects.
What if you don’t know your blood pressure?
If you haven’t had it checked in a while - go get it done. Of course you can get yourself a blood pressure tester but it’s important that you’re speaking to a qualified physician about the results.
It’s more important than having your PT tell you how much protein you need to eat, or the latest in Ketogenic Dieting or Intermittent Fasting. It’s more important than your pseudo gluten intolerance or your genetic tolerance to ‘Carbs before Marbs.’
Bottom Line - There are 99 reasons to exercise and fat loss doesn’t have to be one of them. HEART HEALTH AND STAYING ALIVE IS A PRETTY BIG F***ING REASON TO MOVE YOUR BODY vigorously FOR 30 MINUTES A DAY.
Not sure how to move for 30 minutes a day? Try my video based fitness programme that can be done at home.
Want to read more on heart health? (ps. You should want to know more) check these helpful links: