“The need to incorporate more exercise into our lives is well understood, but doing it is often another matter,” says LIUNA General Secretary Treasurer and LHSFNA Labor Co-Chairman Armand E. Sabitoni. “It may help to know that even light exercise can make a big difference.”
The LHSFNA’s training manual, Nutrition & Fitness For Laborers, and the Nutrition & Fitness For Laborers and Build a Better Body brochures are designed to help Laborers improve their dietary and exercise habits. They can be ordered through the LHSFNA’s website by clicking on Publications.
Light exercise is something that can be done anywhere. It does not mean getting hot and sweaty or going to the gym. “If more people engaged in regular, light exercise,” says Sabitoni, “fewer would have to take costly medication to keep their blood pressure under control, and fewer lives would be lost to heart attacks and strokes.”
Physical activities that increase heart and breathing rate can usually be considered light exercise. Walking to the bus stop, mowing the lawn, carrying a full laundry basket up a flight of steps and vacuuming are actually light aerobic exercise. Routinely engaging in these and other activities like riding your bike, gardening or dancing can help prevent or reduce high blood pressure because they get you moving.
Current fitness guidelines call for adults to engage in light or moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. However, when it comes to controlling and preventing high blood pressure, even 15 minutes a day can make a difference. More exercise is better, but a little bit can go a long way. Sometimes, light exercise may make it possible to avoid having to take blood pressure medication or, at least, reduce the dosage. The key is consistency and regularity.
High Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is a common condition in which excessive force of pumping blood can damage blood vessels as well as organs in the body. In the United States, one of out of every three adults has high blood pressure. Although it often has no symptoms, high blood pressure can cause artery walls to thicken (atherosclerosis). This can lead to complications, including a heart attack, stroke or a bulge (aneurysm), which can cause a life-threatening rupture. Blood pumping at an excessive rate can also make the heart thicken which can cause heart failure. Kidney failure and vision loss are other potential complications of high blood pressure. In the U.S., high blood pressure is the underlying cause in one out of every six deaths.
Light Exercise and High Blood Pressure
Light exercise, as long as it is a regular activity, can help make the heart strong and can help lower blood pressure.
A strong heart pumps blood with less effort. The less the heart works to pump, the less the force on the arteries. Decreased force on the arteries lowers blood pressure. If blood pressure is at a healthy level – less than 120/80 mm Hg – light exercise can help it stay that way.
Lifestyle choices, heredity and age can contribute to your risk for high blood pressure. You can minimize the first by reducing the sodium in your diet, not smoking and starting or increasing physical exercise. The factors of heredity and age, however, cannot be resolved. That is why it is essential that everyone understand the importance of light exercise and find ways to incorporate it into his or her day.
[Janet Lubman Rathner]