10 Steps To Keep Your Lid On This Winter
Keep your chest warm. Always. This ensures a warm pumping of blood in your heart and lesser constricting
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Winters are enjoyable times for getting cozy, enjoying hot soups and snacks and basking in the sun. They are also the times when arteries are constricted, restricting blood flow, weight goes up due to extra eating and less calorie burning, and exercise reduces. All these lead to high blood pressure, which puts our heart at risk. So how do you keep your blood pressure low and your heart protected? Here are some tips:
Keep your chest warm. Always. This ensures a warm pumping of blood in your heart and lesser constricting.
Focus on herbal teas. Green, jasmine, cinnamon, apple teas available aplenty. Instead of rich foods that keep you warm, opt for these antioxidant-rich teas that lower blood pressure and keep calorie burning going.
Eat the leaves. It’s a chore to eat salads in winters, but seasoning with coriander and celery is easy. Both have been documented to have blood pressure lowering properties. Add them to clear soups, munch on them, make smoothies with them.
Breathe slow. A resting heart rate of 62-65 is ideal for lowering blood pressure, protecting the heart and increasing longevity. Consciously practicing slow breathing, doing alternate nose breathing to lower blood pressure (consult a yoga expert to learn this as all alternate nose breathing exercises do not lower blood pressure) will keep the blood flowing smoothly and easily at a slower pace.
Exercise regularly, but indoors. It’s cold and polluted outside, which can make your chest go into a spasm. Exercise inside the house, keep the workout slow and steady — a 40 minute continuous on-the-spot walking or a 20 minute exercycle and some gentle yoga to keep the BMR going keeps winter weight in control. Consistent exercise minimum 4 days a week keeps blood pressure, weight and heart rate in control.
Limit alcohol. It’s easy to go overboard with drinks when it’s cold, as alcohol keeps us warm and fuzzy in the cold weather. However, more than two small for men and one small for women raise blood pressure.
Keep an eye on your waist circumference. An average Indian male with a 38-inch waist or above and an average Indian female with a 33-inch waist or above are at risk for high blood pressure even if you feel you eat or live healthy. Eating a high fibre diet and practicing yoga keeps these inches off. Make sure you join a healthy weight loss plan if you’re in the risk zone.
Check the caffeine. Tea, coffee, chocolate are some of the items that contain caffeine. In winters, all three are in abundant use. Caffeine has been known to raise blood pressure. To test, monitor your pulse rate before consuming caffeine and then 30 minutes post. If the pulse rate is higher by 7-10 points at resting pulse rate, caffeine definitely should be ousted or reduced.
Quit smoking. Cigarettes increase blood pressure. It also hardens arteries, raises cholesterol and ages your skin. So why do you still smoke?
Monitor your blood pressure. If you are overweight and indulge often, monitoring your blood pressure with a digital machine and updating your doctor on any signs of high blood pressure like headaches, heavy eyes, heavy chest, breathlessness, sweating will keep you protected. Never quit hypertension pills prescribed by your doctor without a proper plan to first lower your blood pressure scientifically, as this can put your heart at risk.
Enjoying winters can be done while protecting your heart and keeping your blood pressure in check will ensure lesser emergency situations, which are common in winters for heart patients. Your life is more important than the indulgences so do stay safe and disciplined.
This article was published in BW Businessworld issue dated 'Dec. 12, 2016' with cover story titled 'India's Super Rich 2016'
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