There are no two ways about it – nature has a positive influence on us. Whether you’re trekking in the forest or reading a book under a tree, the bounty of nature is evident. Research shows that exercising outdoors can help keep your blood pressure in check. Though most choose to join gyms and fitness centres, outdoor workouts can actually be more beneficial. Studies show that exposure to scenes of nature during exercise can lower blood pressure.
Michael Duncan from Coventry University says, “Hypertension is a chronic health problem across the world. Given the results we’ve seen in our study, it is crucial that we continue to try and understand the role physical activity and green exercise play in regulating blood pressure.”
The study in question was done on young children, who were asked to do certain exercises both with and without a visual stimulant (scenes of greenery). Conclusions showed that the children’s blood pressure was lower with the stimulant, and the practice was termed ‘green exercise’.
Duncan went on to say, “If there is indeed a correlation between viewing scenes of nature and lower blood pressure post-exercise, as indicated by our data, it could have very positive implications in encouraging public health practitioners to prescribe outdoor exercise to reduce health risk.”
There are several ways you can maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level:
• Eating right is perhaps the most important part of handling health problems. Blood pressure patients need to watch what they put in their bodies. Foods with good levels of potassium, calcium and omega-3 fatty acids can help curb high BP. Dairy products, green and leafy vegetables, and oily fish are great options to get your fill of these nutrients. Bananas and apricots are both excellent sources of potassium, and are often included in remedies for high blood pressure.
• Exercise is great for so many reasons: it gets your blood pumping, increases adrenaline, and makes your body feel great and work much more smoothly. As it is, exercise is excellent for people with high blood pressure. Combined with a park, it’s just what you need. Grab your running shoes and take a brisk walk around the block, or do some relaxing yoga in a nearby park. The nature and the exercise will both do you good.
• Salt may add flavour to your life, but if you suffer from high blood pressure, it may be a good idea to make your life a wee bit less tasty (at least in this one regard). Sodium does a number on BP, often sending it rocketing. Cut down your intake of salt to considerably lower your levels.
• Stress has several negative effects on your body. Learn to relax and find time to de-stress, especially if you have high blood pressure. Focus your energy on positive activities like yoga and meditation, both great ways to de-stress yourself and align your centre. If those aren’t your cups of tea, do breathing exercises to calm yourself, especially when you feel stress coming on. Music can also have a soothing effect on mind and body, so find the right tune and feel the worries melt away.
• Drink responsibly. Saying no to a beer might be tough to do, but it can reduce blood pressure. If you have the high kind, remember to enjoy alcohol responsibly and in moderation. Even that customary morning cup of coffee can have an adverse effect on your blood pressure, so do yourself a favour by substituting it for tea.
• If you suffer from high blood pressure, you may have been told to lose weight, and just a few kilos can have a positive impact. The weight loss will ease up on your heart and keep your body functioning at a comfortable pace. This is not to say that you should be unhealthily thin; don’t lose more weight than you need to. Maintain comfortable poundage, and you will feel much healthier.
– Saloni, with inputs from IANS