High blood pressure is a condition that worries many people given the fact that you have to take expensive meds for a very long time to bring it down.
What most doctors won’t tell you is the fact that you can actually treat high blood pressure by leading a healthy life. In fact, the most recommended way to control your blood pressure is by leading a healthy lifestyle. You will realize that when you do this there will be no need for meds.
Here are examples of lifestyle changes you can adapt and in the process keep your blood pressure down:
Shed extra weight mostly on your waistline
Blood pressure and weight gain go always go together. When you are overweight you are going to have problems breathing at night a condition known as sleep apnea. This condition further increases blood pressure.
If you want to bring your blood pressure down then you should consider losing weight especially if you are obese or simply overweight. Losing even a few pounds has a significant effect on blood pressure. Actually, for every kilogram, you lose you should expect a reduction in blood pressure by 1 millimeter (mm HG).
Other than losing weight you should also pay close attention to your waistline. If you pack too much weight on this area there are very high chances that you will contract high blood pressure or your condition will get worse if already diagnosed.
Stats have it that:
- Men should keep their waistline below 40 inches which is an equivalent of 102 centimeters.
- Women should keep their waistline below 35 inches which is an equivalent of 89 centimeters.
The measurements may, however, vary depending on ethnicity.
On average you should dedicated approximately 150 minutes every week to exercise. That an average of 20-30 minutes of exercise each day. Doing this will help you lower blood pressure by up to 8 millimeters Hg. The exercises should be consistent given the fact that once you stop then your blood pressure will rise once again.
With high blood pressure, you are at the risk of contracting hypertension. Regular exercises help prevent hypertension and if you already have the condition then regular exercises will help you bring blood pressure down. Examples of simple exercises that you should consider implementing are cycling, jogging, swimming, dancing or walking. Other than aerobics you should also try out intense training. This is basically, short bursts involving intense activities followed by a recovery period where the exercised are either not intense or simply resting. You can also include strength training in your exercise routine. It is however recommended that you consult with your doctor before developing an exercise routine.
If diagnosed with high blood pressure, eating a diet that is low high vegetables, fruits, and low grains while at the same time ensuring that its low in fats and cholesterol, this can reduce your blood pressure by 11 millimeters HG. Such kind of meal plan is referred to as DASH (Dietary Approaches in Stopping Hypertension).
It’s for a fact that changing what you eat isn’t a walk in the park. The following are some guides on how you can go about this:
- Have a meal diary: write down everything that you eat for a period of not less than a week. This will help paint a clear picture of your feeding habits. Having a diary will help you know what you feed, why, the amount and the time.
- Increase potassium intake: potassium in low amounts helps counteract the effects of sodium in the body. Examples of foods rich in potassium are vegetables and fruits. You can still take potassium supplements but it’s not recommended. Ensure that you first consult with your doctor to have a clear picture of how much potassium you should add to your diet.
- Shop smart: before shopping ensure that you read through the factory label to determine the ingredients used.
Reduce intake of sodium
If diagnosed with high blood pressure, even a slight reduction in sodium can have significant effects in reducing your blood pressure for up to 6 millimeters Hg.
The effects of consuming sodium on the body’s blood pressure vary from one person to another. The limit of sodium in a day is usually 2,300 mm Hg. For people who are over 40 years, the average intake should be 1,500 mm Hg in a day.
Tips on how to reduce your intake of sodium:
Read factory labels: choose foods that are low in sodium.
Reduce intake of process foods: natural foods contain low levels of sodium. Addition of sodium happens in the processing stage.
Reduce intake of salt: just a normal teaspoon of table salt contains up to 2,300 mg if sodium. As an alternative, use spices or herbs to add flavor to your food.
Be easy: you can’t just cut the amount of sodium you take. Instead, you should take gradually reduce the amount. With time it will be easy to cut it down completely.
Reduce alcohol intake
Alcohol can rather be considered as a necessary evil. In moderation that is 2 drinks in a day for men and 1 drink for women, it helps in reducing blood pressure by up to 4 millimeters Hg. What is meant by one drink is basically for wine 5 ounces, beer 12 ounces and proof liquor 1.5 ounces!
On the other hand, if you drink too much of it, this will actually raise your blood pressure and as if that’s not enough it will also reduce the effectiveness of the blood pressure meds.
Smoking has an instant increase in blood pressure. In fact, there have been reported cases where people regained their normal blood pressure after quitting smoking. That’s not all; by if you stop smoking you will also help reduce the risk of contracting other chronic diseases related to the heart. Research has it that people who actually quit smoking end up living longer than those who never stop smoking.
Reduce intake of caffeine
Though it has not yet been fully established, consuming caffeine can increase your blood pressure by up to 10 millimeters Hg especially if you rarely take it. However, people who take caffeine on a regular basis experience may experience only a mild increase in blood pressure or even no effect.
The longer effect on taking caffeine is however not clear but speculation is that it will raise it.
Different people react differently to caffeine so determine which category you fall into you should ensure that you check your blood pressure after approximately 30 minutes of taking an alcoholic beverage. If you realize an increase exceeding 7 mm Hg then your blood pressure is very sensitive to caffeine. Consult with your doctor for further guidance on this.
Reduce stress levels
Though this area is still open to more research, there has been sufficient evidence linking chronic stress to increase in blood pressure. How you react to stress also plays a major role in your blood pressure. If you react by smoking, taking alcohol or eating junk food then you can be assured that this will reflect as an increase in the blood pressure.
Take time and figure out what makes you be stressed. Whether it’s your love life, family issues or illness; find ways to eliminate the root of the problem.
If you know what makes you be stressed when you can find alternative ways to deal with your stress. Here are some of these ways:
- Change in expectations: learn to accept thing the way they are and know your limits. Some things can simply not be changed but you will have to live with them. Change your expectations by focusing on what makes you happy and your priorities.
- Make plans to solve what you can: if there are issues that can be resolved to make plans to resolve them.
- Avoid anything that can trigger stress: by any chance avoid walking into stress. If you realize taking a certain path in life makes you stressed it’s high time you cut ties with that part of your life.
- Relax: during your free time ensure that you do something you love, whether it’s a hobby or simply a sport. As long as it makes you happy do it.
- Be grateful: always be grateful even for the rather minor good things that happen in your life.
Regularly monitor your blood pressure
Don’t wait to go to the hospital for your blood pressure to be checked. Buy the gadget and do it at home. This will help you determine whether you are leading a healthy lifestyle or not.
You should also visit your doctor on a regular basis for your blood pressure to be monitored and for you to be advised on the various ways in you can bring it down.
You can’t do this alone; you are going to need all the help you can get from family members and friends. Having such people around you will help you in an immense way both emotionally and physically.
For support beyond family and friends consider joining support groups where you shall interact with other people going through the same hardships. Seeing that you are not alone in the fight will boost your morale immensely.