Reducing Your Blood Pressure

Reducing Your Blood Pressure
USAF Staff Sgt. Jessica Roland, 110th Airlift Wing Medical Group, checks Staff Sgt. Sabrina Zimmerman’s blood pressure at Air National Guard Base Battle Creek, MI. (Air National Guard Force by Tech. Sgt. David Eichaker/released)

Here is an email that I receive with increasing regularity as of  late. More and more young people have elevated blood pressure or high  blood pressure and this is affecting their ability to join the military.

I'm trying to get in the Army National Guard. I passed the ASVAB and most of the physical. I said most because they found that I had high blood  pressure. To be honest it took me by surprise because I work out, jog  everyday and do not have any type of substance abuse problem. I don't  smoke, take any drugs and drink very casual. What are my options I  could do to help me in getting in to serve my country.   Help me Sir.

High blood pressure or hypertension is basically a circulatory problem that  is an increase in pressure in your veins and arteries. There are two  numbers given in blood pressure readings the first number is the when  your heart is pushing out blood from the heart - this is called the systolic pressure reading. The second number is referred as the diastolic pressure reading and is when the blood fills in the heart. So you measure blood flow OUT and blood flow IN to get a reading.  

Have you ever heard of the term "120 over 80" (120/80)?  Well, if you have  you are in good company as that is the standard for healthy blood pressure. The problem with having high blood pressure when you are young (or old) is it damages blood vessels and will affect circulation  if untreated which will lead to heart attack, kidney damage, stroke,  heart disease, and a variety of other cardio / pulmonary illnesses.

High blood pressure is considered to be 140 / 90 and above. So if you are  sporting these type of numbers here are some tips for you to help get  it lower:

What do you think the number one good thing we can do for our bodies?

Exercise and eat right (more fruits / vegetables in your day) and less fatty  foods - this can cure more than half our ailments if we follow #1.

Here are some other important ones as well for reducing hypertension:

- If overweight - lose weight - Eliminate use of any tobacco products - Limit caffeinated drinks to moderate amounts in a day (1-2 max) - eliminate caffeine if possible - Limit sodium in your diet - eat out less and avoid foods in cans - Moderate consumption of alcohol only (1-2 drinks in a day) -  Relax in your day - a stressful day can elevate blood pressure so when  you go in for readings relax and do the above and your numbers could be  lower.

Some people have to resort to medications. BUT I would only resort to medications after you have exhausted all the above for several months. Need ideas for workouts and eating right? See article archives for plenty of FREE advice and email Stew Smith CSCS at for answers to your fitness / health / military /  law enforcement fitness questions.

Stew Smith is a former  Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning  Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning  Association. If you are interested in starting a workout program to  create a healthy lifestyle - check out the Fitness eBook store and the Stew Smith article archive at To contact Stew with your comments and questions, e-mail him at

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