Using martial arts to lower high blood pressure

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has named February Heart Month, which means now is the perfect time to consider what you do to protect your health. High blood pressure is among the most prevailing heart concerns, as it's the leading cause of stroke and heart disease, according to the CDC. Fortunately, if you have high blood pressure, you can still take control of your health – and it all starts with making positive changes.

Causes of blood pressure
While genetics can impact how high your blood pressure naturally is, your health habits largely contribute to it, too. That includes diet, weight and fitness level. In fact, according to Mayo Clinic, being overweight is one of the most common causes of high blood pressure. But this correlation isn't all negative. The source also noted that you can start reducing your blood pressure by losing a mere 10 pounds. The weight around your middle is most important, so as you start reaching your target weight, still keep an eye on your waist measurement.

Exercising to get healthy
Even if you're a healthy weight for your height, you may still have problems with blood pressure. Exercising is another great way to reduce that number – and to be healthy in general. Of course, picking any old workout isn't going to be effective. Design a fitness routine around your interests. Martial arts, for instance, are a fun and social way to work out. Not only will you learn a new skill, but you'll also have a community of fellow martial artists to encourage you along the way.

Martial arts target a number of fitness goals, including strength and stamina. However, to lose weight, you should increase the intensity of your workouts. If you already exercise, that means choosing a martial art that will keep you moving. Although, that doesn't mean you should rule out forms like tai chi. In fact, stress can cause spikes in blood pressure, and even though they're temporary, you should still reduce anxiety. Take a tai chi class, as well, to relax on rough days.