YOUR ENVIRONMENT AND YOUR BLOOD PRESSURE

Health care costs may be challenging your financial security. Ill health may be preventing you from working. Tending to a sick child or loved one may be reducing your ability to be productive while neglecting others tasks for survival. Any of these situations creates a bit of stress in your life and stress is one of the factors that leads to high blood pressure. Other risk factors include overweight, smoking, consuming a lot of salt, drinking alcohol, age, and genetics (7). In reality, stress can lead to addictive behavior, such as overeating, smoking, and drinking alcohol. There is a cyclic network of cause-and-effect that creates a merry-go-round in your life and high blood pressure is the cost of the ride. The question is where to you get off the ride?

To keep things simple, blood pressure is assumed to be similar to hypertension in this report. About 30% of adults live with high blood pressure (7). Children may also experience increased blood pressure, yet your risk increases with maturity.

Breakthrough research reveals that when you reside in an urban ecosystem, you may find yourself troubled with higher blood pressure than if you chose to live in the suburbs or in a rural environment (4). There may be other factors found in the urban ecosystem that adds weight to hypertension symptoms, such as pollution. Those pesky particles that pollute the air, such as dust, increase your blood pressure (7). The urban landscape houses a degree of noise pollution that buffer the sounds of wildlife that may be present. Prolonged exposure to noise may increase blood pressure in men (3).

Over time, your choice to visit the wide selection of fast-food outlets that are filled with delicacies and litter the urban landscape are significantly associated with an increase in blood pressure (6). You may walk to fast food venues to reduce the impacts from your food choices. Engaging in activities found in high-walkable neighborhoods reduce the risk of hypertension. These conditions cause stress and relief may be found through an improved recovery rate blessed by nature (2) and, for the mature adults, sharing quality time with a dog (5).

The Environmental Protection Agency offered some valuable numbers to aid you in taking control of your blood pressure dilemma. It is important to note the conditions found in your environment since exercising without green space may increase your blood pressure by 6%. Light to moderate exercise may reduce hypertension by 3% to 7% when viewing a rural, pleasing landscape. Increased physical activity in a forest or park may reduce stress by 87%. Even sitting in a room with a window view of a tree ensures a degree of hypertension relief than if you stare at the walls.

Anne Bolen from the National Wildlife Foundation (NWF) reported that submersion into green spaces revitalizes your physical, psychological, and social well-being and creates a faster recovery from high blood pressure (1). You actually form a relationship with your environment suggested in the Attention Restoration Theory. Directed or involuntary attention can either cause fatigue and lower your productivity or fascinate and calm you, respectively. Viewing green spaces entices you with a gentle, engaging time-out. “Nature-deficit disorder” plagues children that tend to spend about seven or more hours with electronic media and less than seven minutes of unstructured play outdoors. The NWF’s Schoolyard Habitat education program has awarded more than 9,650 garden grants and reached about 1.6 million youths to teach environmental stewardship and teamwork activities.              

Individuals that choose to partake in risky behaviors or live in urban ecosystems may be faced with high blood pressure challenges. The risks factors increase your chances of embracing hypertension as you mature. Conditions found in urban environments tend to offer you stress factors and food choices that contribute to your high blood pressure. You may improve your well-being by seizing the opportunity to walk or exercise. The improvements are strengthened by green spaces. Dive into the opportunities offered by the National Wildlife Federation to green-up schools, educate community members, and improve your well-being. Your environmental stewardship activities will be gratefully appreciated with the bio-diverse species that are a part of your World – guaranteed.

REFERENCES

1 Bolen, Anne. 2012. Healing Gardens. National Wildlife (World Edition). 00280402. Vol. 50:2.

2 Brown, Daniel K., Jo L. Barton, and Valerie F. Gladwell. 2013. Viewing Nature Scenes Positively Affects Recovery of Autonomic Function Following Acute-Mental Stress. Environmental Science & Technology. Vol. 47:11. Pgs. 5562-5569.

3 Chang, Ta-Yuan, Bing-Fang Hwang, Chiu-Shong Liu, Ren-Yin Chen, Ven-Shing Wang, Bo-Ying Bao, and Jim-Shoung Lai. 2013. Occupational Noise Exposure and Incident Hypertension in Men: A Prospective Cohort Study. American Journal of Epidemiology. Vol. 177:8. Pgs. 818-825.

4 Estes, Maurice G., Mohammad Z. Al-Hamdan, William Crosson, Sue M. Estes, Dale Quattrochi, Shia Kent, and Leslie Ain McClure. 2009. Use of Remotely Sensed Data to Evaluate the Relationship between Living Environment and Blood Pressure. Environmental Health Perspectives. Vol. 117:12. Pgs. 1832-1838.

5 Friedman, Erika, Sue A. Thomas, Son Heesook, Deborah Chapa, and Sandra McCune. 2013. Pet’s Presence and Owner’s Blood Pressure during the Daily Lives of Pet Owners with Pre- to Mild Hypertension. Anthrozoos. Vol. 26:4. Pgs 535-550.

6 Li, Fuzhong, Peter Harmer, Bradley J. Cardinal, and Naruepon Vongjaturapat. 2009. Built environment and changes in blood pressure in middle aged and older adults. Preventive Medicine. Vol. 48:3. Pgs. 237-241.

7 United States Environmental Protection Agency. 2013. Eco-Health Relationship Browser. http://www.epa.gov/research/healthscience/browser/index.html

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