Get Healthier Today With My New Challenge

It's a problem facing nearly half of Americans aged 20 and older... and a whopping three-fourths of folks aged 65 and older...

It often develops over time, and it can be improved with some attention and effort.

But if left unchecked, it will damage your organs and blood vessels – making them less elastic. It can lead to life-threatening events like kidney failure, heart attack, and stroke. It can also lead you to develop heart disease.

I'm talking about high blood pressure...

And while it may not sound like a huge deal, because it's so common, high blood pressure is not something you want to ignore.

Your blood pressure depicts the amount of force exerted on your blood vessels when your heart beats. It's represented by two numbers – the systolic measurement and the diastolic measurement – that are separated by a slash mark. The units used to measure blood pressure are called millimeters of mercury ("mmHg").

The systolic number shows the amount of pressure on your blood vessels when your heart pushes blood out into those vessels. The diastolic number shows the amount of pressure on your blood vessels while your heart is resting in between beats. Normal blood pressure is considered less than 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is a systolic reading of 130 (or higher) or a diastolic reading of 80 (or higher). Low blood pressure is generally considered lower than 90/60 mmHg.

High blood pressure can be brought on by a number of causes, including:

  • Genetics
  • Certain medical conditions, like thyroid problems or kidney disease
  • Eating a poor diet
  • Drinking too much alcohol
  • Stress and anxiety
  • Not getting enough physical activity

And your blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day – depending on factors like your current stress levels or whether you've just had something to eat or drink. So to determine whether your blood pressure is actually high, you'd need a number of readings over a period of time.

And while having high blood pressure could lead to experiencing some severe consequences in your life, studies show that lowering your systolic pressure by just 5 mmHg creates vast improvements to your health.

In a 2021 study conducted by the British Heart Foundation, researchers at the University of Oxford evaluated 48 randomized controlled trials that contained blood-pressure and other health data from nearly 345,000 adults. They found that for every 5 mmHg reduction in systolic blood pressure, the risk of developing a major cardiovascular disease fell by 10%. Additionally, a person's stroke and heart-failure risk dropped by 13%, their coronary heart disease risk decreased by 8%, and their risk of dying from cardiovascular disease decreased by 5%.

And this is great news, because a brand-new study offers an easy way to help with your systolic blood-pressure reduction – without the use of medication – by simply walking...

Researchers at Columbia University conducted a small study with 11 middle-aged and older adults that was published in January. They wanted to explore how interrupting periods of prolonged sitting would impact a person's blood pressure. So over the course of five days, the researchers measured participant blood pressure – at 15- and 60-minute intervals – while the participants performed the following five conditions:

  1. Uninterrupted sitting
  2. Walking for one minute after sitting for 30 minutes
  3. Walking for five minutes after sitting for 30 minutes
  4. Walking for one minute after sitting for 60 minutes
  5. Walking for five minutes after sitting for 60 minutes

The researchers found that every condition in which walking took place significantly decreased the baseline blood-pressure measurements, when compared with the uninterrupted sitting time. The largest reductions in systolic blood pressure were observed when folks walked for one minute after sitting for 60 minutes (a reduction of 5.2 mmHg) and when they walked for five minutes after sitting for 30 minutes (a reduction of 4.3 mmHg).

Essentially, any amount of walking, after sitting for a while, will help reduce your blood pressure.

So I challenge you to do the same...

And in order to make this challenge the most practical amid your busy life, I want you to focus on walking around for five minutes for every hour that you sit.

Set a 60-minute timer on your phone when you know you're going to be sitting down for a while. When it goes off, take a little five-minute stroll around your home or your office, or wherever you may be. Then, when you come back to your seat, set the 60-minute timer again.

Try this for a week and see how well you do. If you miss a day, don't sweat. Simply pick it up the following day. Track your progress in a notebook and see how long you can go with this routine.

But be sure to stop this habit in the evenings... Eat your dinner, take a little stroll, and then hang your timer up for the day. That way, you'll give yourself plenty of mental space to begin winding down for the evening, knowing you've done a great job with Doc's new walking challenge.

And let us know how you do... Send us an e-mail to [email protected]. Did you find the challenge difficult? Did you really enjoy it? Did you get your friends or partner involved in doing the challenge with you? We'd love to know.

What We're Reading...

Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,

Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
March 21, 2023