By making these ten lifestyle changes, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease. If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be concerned about taking medication to lower your blood pressure. Lifestyle plays an important role in the treatment of high blood pressure. If you manage to control your blood pressure through a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid, delay or reduce taking medication.
Here are 10 lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure and keep it low.
1. Lose the extra pounds and watch your waistline
Blood pressure often increases with weight. Being overweight can also lead to disturbed breathing during sleep (sleep apnea), which further increases blood pressure. Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing even a small amount of weight if you are overweight or obese can help lower your blood pressure. In general, you can lower your blood pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) for each kilogram of weight lost. In addition to losing pounds, you generally need to watch your height. If you carry too much weight around your waist, you are more likely to suffer from high blood pressure.
In general :
Men are at risk if their waist circumference is more than 102 centimeters.
Women are at risk if their waist circumference is more than 89 centimeters.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity, for example 150 minutes a week, or about 30 minutes most days of the week, can lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. It’s important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure may rise again.
If you have high blood pressure, exercise can help prevent you from developing hypertension. If you already have high blood pressure, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.
Here are some examples of aerobic exercises you can try to lower your blood pressure: walking, jogging, biking, swimming, dancing, martial arts. You can also try high-intensity interval training, which involves alternating short bursts of intense activity with lighter periods of recovery. Strength training can also help lower blood pressure. Try to include strength training at least two days a week.
3. Eat healthy
A diet high in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and a low intake of saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by 11 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. This diet is known as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension).
Changing your eating habits isn’t easy, but with these tips you can adopt a healthy diet:
– Keep a food diary
Keeping track of what you eat, even for just a week, can give you surprising insight into your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.
– Consider increasing your potassium level
Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements.
– Be an informed consumer
Read food labels when shopping and stick to your diet when eating out.
4. Reduce your sodium intake
Even a small reduction in sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and lower blood pressure by about 5-6 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies between groups of people. In general, limit your sodium intake to 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day or less. However, a lower sodium intake, 1500 mg per day or less, is ideal for most adults.
To reduce the sodium in your diet, consider these tips:
– Read food labels
If possible, choose low-sodium foods and drinks from those you usually buy.
– Eat less processed foods
Only a small amount of sodium is naturally present in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
– Do not add salt
Just one level teaspoon of salt contains 2300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
– Take it easy
If you don’t think you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet, reduce it gradually. Your palate will adapt over time.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. By only consuming alcohol in moderation, usually one drink a day for women, or two a day for men, you can potentially lower your blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg.
But this protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol. Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points.
6. Quit smoking
Every cigarette you smoke raises your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. Quitting smoking can reduce your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. People who quit smoking can live longer than people who never quit smoking.
7. Reduce your caffeine intake
The role of caffeine in blood pressure is still debated. Caffeine can raise blood pressure by up to 10 mm Hg in people who rarely consume it. But people who drink coffee regularly may experience little or no effect on their blood pressure.
Although the long-term effects of caffeine on blood pressure are unclear, blood pressure may increase slightly. To find out if caffeine raises your blood pressure, check your blood pressure within 30 minutes of consuming a caffeinated drink. If your blood pressure increases by 5 to 10 mm Hg, you may be sensitive to the effects of caffeine on blood pressure.
8. Reduce your stress
Chronic stress can contribute to high blood pressure. More research is needed to determine the effects of chronic stress on blood pressure. Occasional stress can also contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, or smoking.
Take the time to think about the causes of your stress, such as work, family, finances or illness. Once you know what is causing your stress, think about how you can eliminate or reduce it.
If you can’t eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least deal with them in a healthier way. Try doing this:
– Change your expectations
For example, plan your day and focus on your priorities. Avoid overdoing it and learn to say no. Understand that there are things you cannot change or control, but you can focus on how you react to them.
– Focus on the problems you can control and make plans to solve them. If you have a problem at work, try talking to your manager. If you have a conflict with your children or spouse, take steps to resolve it.
– Avoid stress triggers
Try to avoid triggers when you can. For example, if rush hour traffic on the way to work is stressful, try leaving earlier in the morning or take public transport. If possible, avoid people who cause you stress.
– Take time to relax and do activities that you enjoy.
Take time each day to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Schedule time for enjoyable activities or hobbies in your schedule, such as going for a walk, cooking, or volunteering.
– Practice gratitude
Expressing gratitude to others can help reduce your stress.
9. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly
Home monitoring can help you monitor your blood pressure, make sure lifestyle changes are working, and alert you and your doctor to potential health complications. Blood pressure monitors are available everywhere and without a prescription.
Regular visits to your doctor are also essential to control your blood pressure. If your blood pressure is well controlled, ask your doctor how often you need to check it. Your doctor may suggest that you check it daily or less often. If you change your medications or other treatments, your doctor may recommend that you check your blood pressure starting two weeks after the change in treatment and one week before your next appointment.
10. Get help
Support from family and friends can help improve your health. They may encourage you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor, or start an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure down. If you feel you need support other than family and friends, consider joining a support group. This may put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or moral boost and who can give you practical advice for coping with your condition.