Tips for Lowering Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure is a serious medical condition that can lead to heart disease, stroke, and other negative health effects. Fortunately, there are simple things you can do to lower your blood pressure. These include getting enough exercise, eating well, and limiting alcohol consumption.
Get out of the house
Get out of the house.
You may not realize how much time you actually spend inside, but it’s likely a lot more than you think. The average American spends 23 hours a week indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. That’s long enough to watch over 2 months’ worth of TV shows or read almost 10 books (and remember those are real books). It’s also the equivalent of two-thirds of your waking life spent in one place—the same amount as if you lived your entire life at Disneyland!
How do we get so confined indoors? In part because it’s easy; most people don’t even leave their homes for months at a time. But there are other factors too: lack of transportation options, lack of money for entertainment, and even physical limitations that prevent us from venturing out from under our roofs. If you find yourself stuck inside all day (or night), here are some tips for getting outside more often:
Exercise is good for your heart and your body. Exercise is good for your mind and soul. Exercise is good for your love life, too!
In fact, there’s really only one reason you might not want to exercise: because it’s hard. But even if it were easier than taking a nap or watching TV, there are so many benefits to exercising with someone else that doing it on your own can be downright depressing. If you’re like me and have trouble getting motivated by yourself, try making an effort to get up off the couch or out of bed before heading alone outside or into the gym—you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how much more enjoyable things are when you do them together!
Make it a habit to eat well
- Eat more fruits and vegetables.
- Eat more whole grains.
- Reduce your salt intake.
- Reduce saturated fat, especially red meat, processed meat and butter/cream (these foods can be replaced with healthier options like leaner meats, low-fat dairy products, beans and nuts).
- Limit sugar intake by avoiding added sugars in processed foods (such as sodas), choosing naturally sweet foods like fruit instead of sugary desserts and drinks, cutting back on sugar-sweetened beverages like juice cocktails or flavored waters (these should also be replaced with water)
Try to lose weight
- Losing weight can help lower blood pressure.
- If you’re overweight, losing 5-10 percent of your body weight may reduce your blood pressure later in life by 10 points, which can translate into a significant decrease in strokes and heart attacks.
- How much weight should I lose?
To determine how much weight to lose, use the following formula: 5 pounds for every inch above 5 feet tall you are (5’2″ = 25 pounds; 6’2″ = 50 pounds)
- Limit alcohol. Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, and drinking more than one drink a day for women and two drinks for men is associated with higher blood pressure.
- Avoid smoking, which has been shown to increase the risk of high blood pressure by 50 percent to 80 percent.
- Avoid illegal drugs because they may damage your heart and make it harder for you to control your blood pressure.
- Eat a healthy diet that includes fruits and vegetables as well as low-fat dairy products, whole grains and lean meats (go easy on the salt). A balanced diet also helps prevent obesity—a major cause of high blood pressure—and promotes weight loss if you already have high cholesterol or obesity-related conditions such as type 2 diabetes mellitus or metabolic syndrome.* For people with hypertension who want to lose weight: Aim for gradual weight loss—about 1 pound per week—by reducing calorie intake through lifestyle changes rather than fad diets or rapid weight loss programs.* To avoid further complications from diabetes or prehypertension (high BP without clinical symptoms), try eating smaller portions at each mealtime.* Cut down on foods high in sodium such as processed foods like canned soups or frozen dinners; fast food items like burgers; breaded meats; pizza toppings like sausage slices; salted nuts like peanuts
No matter how you feel about smoking, the fact is that it’s a major risk factor for many health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), smoking damages nearly every organ in your body, including your heart and lungs. It can also cause cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), diabetes and other conditions.
So if you have high blood pressure or just want to help yourself avoid getting it in the future, quitting smoking is a great way to start lowering your BP.
More exercise, healthier foods, and less alcohol can help lower your blood pressure.
For those with high blood pressure, getting more exercise and eating healthier foods can help lower your blood pressure. In addition to diet and physical activity, you should also try to:
- Stop smoking or cut down on how much you smoke.
- Avoid drinking too much alcohol (for some people, this is fewer than two drinks a day).
If you are looking for ways to lower your blood pressure, try these tips. They can help you feel better and stay healthy!