If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may not know that you can make some easy lifestyle changes to help reduce your risk of heart disease. Before turning to medication, you should manage high blood pressure—which is also known as hypertension—through diet and exercise. By successfully following a healthy lifestyle, you may avoid, delay, or reduce the need for medications.
Studies have shown that 10 lifestyle changes can help improve blood pressure. They are:
As weight increases, blood pressure often goes up. Taking control of your weight is one of the most effective lifestyle changes you can make to lower blood pressure. In general, it is possible to reduce blood pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury (mm Hg) with each kilogram (about 2.2 pounds) of lost weight.
Besides just shedding pounds, take notice of your waistline. Carrying too much weight around the middle can put you at greater risk for high blood pressure.
Studies show that regular physical activity can lower blood pressure by about 5 to 8 mm Hg. 150 minutes a week or about 30 minutes a day is recommended. It’s also essential to be consistent to keep blood pressure low.
By following a healthy diet rich in whole grains, fruit, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products, you can lower your blood pressure by up to 11 mm Hg. It isn’t easy to change eating habits, but by starting slowly and keeping a food diary, it can become second nature.
The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure can vary among groups of people, but in general, most people benefit from cutting it from their diet. Even a small reduction of sodium can result in a reduction in high blood pressure.
Alcohol is a tricky subject because it has been found to reduce and increase blood pressure. Moderation is key, so one drink a day for women and two for men can potentially lower blood pressure by about 4 mm Hg. That said, even moderate alcohol consumption can have undesired effects on cognition and brain health.
Quitting smoking can improve all aspects of health. But for blood pressure, it can help it return to normal levels, reducing your risk of heart disease.
This is a highly debated subject among health professionals, but one fact is certain. For those who rarely consume it, caffeine can raise blood pressure up to 10 mm Hg. So, if you enjoy a cup of coffee from time to time, better opt for decaf.
Chronic stress has been found to contribute to high blood pressure. Take steps to reduce stress and remember that often, people react to stress by eating unhealthy foods, smoking, or drinking alcohol.
Monitor Blood Pressure
By investing in a home blood pressure monitoring device, you will keep tabs on your blood pressure to make certain your lifestyle changes are working.
Family and friends’ support can go a long way to help keep you on track to lower your blood pressure. If you need support, consider joining a group that can put you in touch with people who can offer an emotional or morale boost.
Sarah Cownley earned a diploma in nutritional therapy from Health Sciences Academy in London, and she enjoys helping others by teaching healthy lifestyle changes through her personal consultations and with her regular contributions to the Doctors Health Press. This article was originally published on Bel Marra Health.