B1a-Fitness and Health

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Blood pressure is the measurement of the pressure exerted by the blood against artery walls.

Blood in the arteries is under pressure due to the contraction of the muscles, so that it reaches all parts of the body. It is measured in milimetres of mercury (mmHg).

There are two blood pressure measurements:

  • SYSTOLIC PRESSURE- the higher measurement when the heart beats, pushing blood through the arteries.
  • DIASTOLIC PRESSURE- the lower measurement when the heart rests between beats.

Normal blood pressure for an adult of 20 or over should be less than 120/80 mmHg.


There are various factors that can increase blood pressure:

  • SMOKING- nicotine increases the heart rate. Carbon monoxide reduces the oxygen-carrying capacity of the blood. It combines with haemoglobin preventing oxygen to combine with haemoglobin. This causes an increase in heart rate to compensate for the reduced amount of oxygen carried in the blood.
  • BEING OVERWEIGHT- when there is an increased weight it takes more pressure to move the blood around the body. When the weight gain is in the abdominal area there is a greater risk for high blood pressure because this type of fat is more likely to cause the arteries to become thick and stiff. When the blood vessels get stiff it is harder to push the blood through, so there is an increase in blood pressure.
  • STRESS- your body produces a surge of hormones when you're in a stressful situation. These hormones temporarily increase blood pressure by causing your heart to beat faster and your blood vessels to narrow.
  • ALCOHOL- this contains lots of calories which…


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