Tag Archives: Walking

A modern plague… and what you can do about it.

There is an idiomatic quirk of the locale where I live.  A lot of people, when discussing their ailments love to express that they “Suffer with Blood Pressure”.  It is at this point that my inner pedant rises up in protest.  You do not suffer with blood pressure; you absolutely and totally require blood pressure in order to survive.  It is what pumps the blood around the body.  What you actually suffer with is either high blood pressure, or low blood pressure.

high blood pressure

Either is equally nasty, to be honest.  In modern days however, it is high blood pressure which is something of a plague.  I have lost count of the people who have been diagnosed with it in my network of friends and family (including myself at one stage), so I think it is quite important to think about the causes of it and what we can do in our own home arsenal, before we take to the medical profession.

Doctors actually call high blood pressure the silent killer, because it rarely causes you any problems until something in the body gives out, like your heart or your kidneys.  Effectively, it is the result of your system getting overstressed due to something or other.  Shortness of breath and severe headaches can be a sign of high blood pressure, but the only sure way of telling if it is normal or elevated is by going to get it checked.  A good guide is to get it measured once a year.  You can go to the doctor for this, but equally you can purchase your own machine from the pharmacy, or you can use some publicly available machines if that is a service provided in your community. If you are a normal, healthy person should have a blood pressure of below 140 over 90.  The last time I was checked, for my adoption medical, I was 120 over 80.


A few years before that, when I was 35 or so, I went to the doctor reporting symptoms of unexplained headaches, nausea, no energy whatsoever and inability to sleep.  She took my blood pressure, took it a second time because she didn’t believe the first reading and then told me that if I didn’t calm down I was going to have a stroke before I turned 40.  It’s a shame I can’t remember the reading from that occasion, but I know it was elevated.  I am rather proud that I never required drugs to keep it under control.

I did my research.  I knew which risk factors I had (overweight, stressed to the maximum, pretty crappy diet at the time, hardly any exercise because I was anchored to a desk all day at work) and I knew I needed to change things if I wanted to beat the beta blockers.  So if you are in this position yourself, here is what you do.


First, overhaul your diet.  I will be honest, I am not the best at eating like an angel all the time.  If I was, then I would have lost this excess weight a long time ago.  But one thing I have done is cut out the excess salt in your diet.  You might recall a few years ago there was a big push from the medical profession to the food industry to stop putting extra salt in things?  That was because of this, and the link to heart disease.  So…  gradually cut out convenience foods out of my diet.

Consequently, I lost some weight, and that is also good for the blood pressure.  I could stand with losing some more, but that is for the sake of vanity rather than anything else.  I do not need to do so for my blood pressure to equalise.  Another good tip is to learn how to breathe properly.  A lot of people do not take as deep breaths as they should, due in part to appalling posture brought on by sitting for long periods in front of a computer screen.  Taking deep breaths, holding it and then releasing it slowly is actually a great technique for relaxation as well.  I actually know of one lady who was about to be put on beta blockers, but learning how to breathe properly meant that she was able to get her blood pressure down entirely without the aid of drugs.


You also need to do some exercise.  Walking is one of the best exercises you can do, and a gentle walk for 30-45 minutes per day is perfect for getting the blood pressure down.  You need to do this at least 3 times per week and ideally walk steadily without a break.  The whole point is to exercise your heart for a sustained period.

Walking is also a great stress reliever and walking the family pet is also a great reason to walk places.  Having a pet and fussing it, and receiving love back from it, is a wonderful feeling.  I certainly noticed the difference on adopting two cats and a nutty dog!  Anything that relieves stress in a healthy way is fine – get out and see people, laughing at a funny movie, listening to music you enjoy, planting something in the garden  (well, I like that, anyway!).  Anything that can get your blood pressure down and lets you chill out.  After all, another phrase for high blood pressure is hypertensive.


Going Green can be fun!

Did you know that Tuesday was Earth Day?  I know… it kind of escaped me too.  However, searching around for some inspiration for a blog this morning, I noticed that one of my favourite websites (www.treehugger.com) had an article about how Going Green could be fun.  It was a big change from some of the earnest “we must immediately eat granola and wear birkenstocks and hair shirts to save the world” sort of articles, and it has a great message.  The original article looked at 9 different ways that Going Green can be fun.  I have picked out 5 of them.

Earth day

The first is a little unusual – Insulating the house.  Oh yeah… serious fun.  (Please don’t call the men in white coats to take me away, bear with me…) It might seem a little dull, but you know what is fun?  Reducing your energy bills and having more money left over at the end of the month for those little luxuries or a day out or something.  I will take that kind of fun!


The article also talked about how choosing green transport options can also be fun.  Biking and walking help us to stay healthier and extend lifespans.  Of course, that also depends on the other road users, and around where I live, I am not sure that would necessarily work out – cyclists are kind of used as target practice for some car drivers – but I understand what he is saying.  Let’s face it, it feels great to use your bike, or to walk the dog in the countryside (on a lead please – no worrying sheep or other wildlife).  Puts a great big smile on your face.


The other transport choice is of course, letting the train take the strain.  I had to smirk at this one.  Obviously, the guy writing the original article lives in North America.   Sure, trains here are okay… there are lots to choose from and you can get pretty much anywhere on them in the UK.  There are the benefits that someone else is doing the driving, and you have extra time to read, knit, work, day dream, sleep.  But that is assuming that you can get a seat or that the train is running on time or at all!


If you are attempting to green your lifestyle, then often there is something of a dietary change involved.  People decide to become vegetarian or vegan, or at the very least reduce the intake of meat, for animal welfare reasons if not dietary ones.  Well, increasing the intake of fruit and vegetables is never going to be a bad thing is it?  Vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, natural sugars, great tasting, versatile, interesting meals.  You just can’t beat it.  And growing them takes up less resources than raising meat in decent welfare standards.  (Incidentally, I am not going vegetarian anytime soon because I am a rapacious carnivore.  Though I do agree with better standards for Animal welfare)


And finally… my favourite thing.  Going green to me means getting into the garden.  For me, gardening is incredibly smile inducing (sometimes wince inducing as well if I over do it and stretch my muscles a bit too much!), it is great exercise, fewer food miles, fewer fertilizers and poisons on the vegetables if you choose to grow organically and is an immensely satisfying hobby.


So, have fun going Green!  It is not all about sacrifice.  It can make our life better and more enjoyable as well!

Inexpensive ways to relax

I could really do with a relaxing massage or a spa day.   But unfortunately, the old bank balance will not run to a day at a posh spa somewhere, and I don’t have the energy to whistle up a spa day at home.  I think the stuff I would need has actually been packed and moved already, and it will add to the stress levels to try and find them rather than reduce them!   What other possibilities are there for methods of relaxing and de-stressing?


The two things these relaxation methods must be are a) inexpensive or free and b) not going to take forever to put together.  I want to relax and I want to relax now.  So, after some brief internet research, here are my top ten ideas.


1.  Grab a book you have been longing to read, a cup of tea and a chair.  Sit back and enjoy.  If you have children in the house, it might not last long, but grab the relaxation at any opportunity you can.  


2.  Sleep.  The cheapest thing you can do.  I am a huge fan of afternoon naps.  I don’t mind if I nap in a chair, on the sofa or in my own bed, or whether it is a catnap or a snorefest.  I love sleep.  Kind of ironic that it doesn’t seem to like me much though.

3. Do some tai chi, yoga or stretching.  There are loads of internet resources to help matters, or if you have a Nintendo Wii languishing in the corner, get it out, get the Wii Fit board out and do some yoga.  


4.  Take a walk in the countryside.  I am so lucky, because I have it on my doorstep.  Ten minutes, and I am in the wilds of North Nottinghamshire, and can forget about the world at large and appreciate the small things around me.  

st barnies

5.  Find your local church and go in.  Even if you don’t believe, appreciate the architecture, appreciate the silence.  Pray if you want to, or just appreciate the ambience.  Be respectful though.  If you don’t believe, others do, and there is no need to offend anyone.


6.  Take the dog for a surprise walk.   I don’t know about you, but our dog has a walking routine.  A surprise walks makes her very happy, and her being happy, makes me happy.  If I do this, I will also try to walk mindfully. By this I mean breathe deeply and relax your upper body.  No point holding a stress position when you are trying to  relax!


7.  Listen to your favourite music.  Whether it is classical, hip hop, heavy metal, dance music, rock and roll… whatever.  Dance if you want to, or just sit and let it wash over you.  Enjoy it!


8.  Learn a new skill.  I have expanded my range of crafty skills using this one.  I taught myself to crochet and relearnt how to knit, as well as cross stitch and embroidery.  Next on my list is to relearn how to sew my own clothes.  


9. Turn off all of the technology and go old school for fun.  Jigsaws, board games, charades, whatever.  Play I-spy with stuff around the house or in the garden.  In fact, with spring on its ways and summer around the corner, go outside and weed the garden.  You can work out some aggression while weeding the borders and laughing with whoever you can convince to come out with you.


10.  Call a friend and have a really good chat.  I love doing this.  I always try and steer clear of the reasons for feeling stressed and just laugh about old times or organise to meet up and have a fun day with them.  


I hope these tips help you.  They will be a reference for me too over the next few weeks!  


10 Rules for Better Health – Part Two

I hope you enjoyed yesterday’s blog, and here is today’s, picking up where we left off.

10 rules


So, we did the first five yesterday and today we are tackling the last five.


Less words, More Action.  You can take this in two different ways.  Yes, it could mean getting your bahookie off the couch and doing some exercise, not matter how little or how short a time you can manage.  I think it could also mean keeping your word as well.  If you actually live up to what you have promised others, how good does that make you feel?  The endorphin kick you receive from both gives you a similar feeling.  So, lets do this!


Less Greed, More Giving.   That Movie in the 80’s with the line “Greed is good” was soooo wrong.  Greed is NOT good.  It is not good for the community, the world or the individual.  I might be swimming against the tide here, but if we all just gave a little of ourselves, time or companionship not necessarily money, our world would be a much better place.


Less Worry, More Sleep.  Did you know that more than 75% of the conditions which General Practitioners treat regularly, are due to stress?   Although humans do need some stress/worry to motivate them to do something, having the body’s flight or flight response on the go 24/7 is not healthy.  I have seen (and experienced) the damage it can do, and it is just not worth it.   Sleep is a great remedy.  There really is very little better than a good, deep, restorative sleep.  It is when the body repairs itself.  Sadly, I don’t get much of it myself due to insomnia and a very odd cicadian rhythm.  But I try, every night to sleep soundly and for at least 8 hours.

from the Guardian

from the Guardian

Less Driving, More Walking.   Not only will the environment benefit from less exhaust fumes, you will also benefit.  Not just from the exercise, but also from being in nature/out of a confined space.  It gives your brain a bit of space.  I often come back from a brisk walk with the dog having had a great idea for a blog post, or an idea for what to cook for dinner.  Breathing fresh air is a great stress reliever as well.



Less Anger, More Laughter.  Anger is corrosive and can cause so much damage to the body.  Often, holistic healers find that the blockages to people getting better are down to repressed anger or down to people being angry about things in other areas of their lives. Anger is not good.  Getting cross also represses your immune system.  Laughter however, truly is the best medicine.  it boosts your immune system, bathes your brain in Oxytocin and other feel good hormones.  Who hasn’t felt good after watching that hilarious comedy, or laughing hysterically at something someone said?  Its obvious.


So, today, my prescription is for you to go and either take a walk in some fresh air, find something you can give away to someone who really needs it, have a fabulous afternoon nap, and watch the film which never fails to make you laugh.  Or, better yet, do all of them!