So I saw 88 patients last week, If i was to estimate I'd say at least 30% of them had high blood pressure. There was a particular gentleman who came in complaining of a headache he couldn't shake and when I examined him his blood pressure was 180/109 - which is incredibly high.
I am Kofi Okyere-Dede (Dr Kofi) and here are a few things I've learnt as a doctor seeing different people dealing with hypertension.
Nobody wants to exercise
We say we do, it looks great on all the adverts with the happy people smiling and jogging... but when it comes down to actually doing it, very few people really want to exercise.
Liking the idea of being healthy and actually doing it are definitely 2 completely different things. In the majority of my conversations with patients managing high blood pressure, it is clear that we are scarcely able to commit long term to something that we know will benefit us in the long run.
As soon as I mention that the recommendation for exercise is 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week (American Heart Association) the look on my patients' faces are worth a million dollars.
Everybody has excuses
There are many barriers to actually exercising, some that are legitimate and some that we create ourselves. See if you recognise some of these:
- I have no time, I start work early and leave work late every day
- I work really hard at work, that's all the exercise I need
- I have been meaning to sign up for the gym
- My weight is fine
- I'm handling my body with my diet
- Nobody in my family has high blood pressure
Let's skip all that
I tried an experiment last week: I met a patient that knew she had high blood pressure - we spoke about her diet, medication management and of course her exercise. She said that this year her resolution was to exercise more, she had been meaning to join the gym but hadn't gotten the time just yet. Here's what I asked her:
Do you have a skipping rope?
I know we are all too grown up for skipping, but maybe little children have the right idea here and this is why I am a big fan of skipping:
A skipping rope is cheap
Unless you are buying a Nike branded skipping rope (which you can get for about R349 - geez), all you actually need is a basic rope. When i was a kid we would tie ropes together, put a weight in the middle and jump.
So you can get started for less than R100, with no monthly subscription.
You can skip anywhere
If you are reasonably quiet you can skip pretty much anywhere. No need to drive to the gym or catch a taxi - you can even skip whilst watching your favourite shows on TV.
Get the family involved
If you are a Dad, try this: get home in the evening from work, put on some ridiculous shorts and start skipping in the lounge.
I'm willing to bet that your kids will love this. Have a competition to see who can skip the most in one minute, or try one of these other games.
A skipping rope helps to cut through the excuses and makes exercising really easy and fun. Why not give it a try and let us know how it goes :)