Even though festivities of Christmas and New Year are behind you, there are still quite a few days of winter remaining. If you’re worried about how the continuing cold weather is going to affect your blood pressure, you should make it your mission to learn as much about it, as possible.
Generally, higher blood pressure is observed during the winter season, because more effort is needed to pump blood through your veins and arteries that have narrowed due to the colder weather.
But the relationship between winter and hypertension doesn’t end there.
Keep reading to know about the best approaches to manage hypertension during the colder season.
Why Does Winter Affect Your Hypertension?
According to several studies, hypertension often spikes in winter and drops in summer. This is due to a number of reasons which include lower activity levels in the patients, and their increased consumption of salt and empty festive calories. As the temperature drops during the winter, the body itself restricts its blood flow to conserve body heat. This can also affect body functions, restricting blood flow, and increasing blood pressure.
The lack of Vitamin D, from less exposure to the sun, has also been linked to increased risk of high blood pressure during winter months. Most hypertension patients, especially those who are older, tend to step out less during winter and this can have a severe impact on their wellbeing. In fact, according to leading scientists, just fifteen minutes of exposure to sunlight per day is enough for a patient to acquire the equivalent of 2000 IU of Vitamin D.
The lack of physical activity and abundance of unhealthy foods could also be a contributing factor to the soaring blood pressure during the colder seasons.
What Can You Do to Ensure That Winter Doesn’t Affect Your Hypertension Management?
Now that you’ve been made aware of the reasons why hypertension is affected by winter, it’s time to figure out what exactly you can do, to manage it better. This includes adjusting your diet, finding new ways to move at home, and committing to a self-monitoring schedule.
- Change your diet
There are several great lifestyle changes that you can make, to better manage your hypertension. Following the DASH diet – Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension – has been a piece of indisputable advice. The diet emphasizes vegetables, fruits, and low-fat dairy foods, and limited amounts of whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. This diet is also low in sodium and is a balanced approach to manage hypertension, especially during winter months when you’d feel like indulging.
- Minimize stepping out
Performing physically strenuous activities in the cold can put undue stress on your circulatory system, leading to worse blood pressure, and even affect your heart. It is advised that hypertensive patients, especially those who are older, should avoid outdoor activities. Even when inside, they should extreme lifting and exertions.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeine
While it may be tempting to grab a drink or two during the winter season, experts advise against it. Both alcohol and caffeine are drinks that people turn to keep them warm during the colder seasons. But they are counterproductive, as they make you lose your body heat quicker. Instead, try turning to drinks like teas or mulled ciders, which will make you feel warm, and keep you healthy.
- Conserve body heat
Since the temperature change is what affects blood pressure, it is important to keep the body protected. Conserving body heat, by bundling upon warm clothes is the way to go. Make sure to always wear loads of layers during the colder season, and make sure to wear gloves and a scarf when stepping out. This will help in preventing further exposure to the cold outside weather, which could increase your blood pressure.
- Make sure to get sufficient activity
While you’re expected to avoid doing extreme activities, or outdoor activities during winter, you shouldn’t take it as an excuse to become lazy. Moderate-intensity activities like callisthenics or low impact aerobics will keep your cardiovascular system pumping. This will equip you with the health to handle any winter-related stress you may face.
- Start routine self-tracking
No matter what advice you choose to take, there is one practice that will keep you healthy, and that is routine self-tracking. Using your trusted BP monitor and tracking your blood pressure at the same time every day, or every week. This will show the timeline of your blood pressure, and alert you of any problems.
While the colder season comes with its challenges, including the increased hypertension risk, a little awareness can go a long way. You should use this time to start better lifestyle habits, and find ways to stick with them, no matter the season.
Don’t use the cosy weather and festive mood as a reason to curl up in bed, rather make some healthy dishes with winter vegetables and try out new workouts at home!
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