Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can be lowered in a healthy, non-medicated way. You can make positive lifestyle changes that will help prevent or even control hypertension. What lifestyle changes do you need to make?
1. Keep a Trim Waistline
Those extra pounds that you’re holding on to are not going to help your blood pressure. The normal trajectory is that people gain weight, and their blood pressure rises as a result. And even when weight isn’t directly tied to blood pressure increases, it can increase your risk of causing sleep apnea, which will increase blood pressure.
Weight loss will be your most effective way of controlling your blood pressure.
Studies suggest that you can lower your mm Hg levels by 1 millimeter for every kilogram of weight you lose. And if you’re the type of person that seems to carry all of your weight in your waist, this puts you at a higher risk of high blood pressure.
Eat healthy, shed those excess pounds and watch your blood pressure decrease in the process.
2. Follow a Healthy Diet
Eating healthy is a positive lifestyle choice. When you eat healthy, you’re helping lower your calories, and you’re losing or maintaining a healthy weight. Eating the right foods can also help lower blood pressure levels.
You’ll want to make a few diet changes:
- Increase your potassium intake to combat the side effects of sodium
- Keep a food diary to track everything you eat
Become a shopper who looks at food labels. Keep your sodium levels low and change up your diet. A healthy diet that consists of the following can help:
- Low-fat dairy products
- Whole grains
You’ll also want to be cautious of your intake of cholesterol and saturated fats.
Sodium reduction is key to lowering your blood pressure, and a slight reduction can reduce your mm Hg levels by as much as 5 – 6. Everyone handles sodium differently, and the limit for the amount of sodium a person should consume is 2,300 mg.
For most adults, you’ll want to decrease this amount to 1,500 mg daily or less.
Stop adding salt to your food, read food labels and eat less processed foods if you want to be able to minimize the amount of sodium you’re consuming.
3. Quit or Limit Your Bad Habits
Everyone hates it, but the truth is that your bad habits can kill you, or at the very least, they’re contributing to your hypertension. You’ll want to quit or limit:
- Alcohol. Your alcohol consumption is bad for your health. One drink of wine or beer can provide a protective effect to your body, lowering mm Hg by about 4 if you drink one to two drinks per day. But when you drink in excess of this amount, the opposite can occur, causing your blood pressure to rise by a few points.
- Smoking. A terrible habit, smoking has been shown to increase your blood pressure even for several minutes after you’ve put your cigarette out. When you quit smoking, you’ll reduce your risk of heart disease, and you’ll also return your blood pressure levels back to a normal range.
These bad habits may negatively impact your life anyway, so you might as well quit now before your blood pressure levels get out of control.
4. Minimize Stress
Stress is the enemy, and when you have too much stress, it will have a negative impact on your health. The chronic effects of stress will lead to higher blood pressure, and even occasional stress can have an impact.
You need to find ways to relieve this stress, and that may mean:
- Studies show that meditating can relieve stress and help a person better manage their thoughts and emotions.
- Change expectations. When you have expectations, you have stress. This means trying to do too much in too little time, or it can mean expecting outcomes of things that are not within your control. Focus on what you can control, stop having expectations and focus on your priorities.
There are a lot of ways to reduce stress, and this may mean exercise or avoiding your triggers. If you can do these few things, you’ll be able to reduce your stress, be much happier and even lower your blood pressure.
5. Start Moving and Exercise
You need to start moving and getting in some good quality exercise. It may sound like a broken record, but exercise is great for your health and weight management. Getting moving is fun and exciting, but you need to do the right things.
If you hate walking, but love tennis, then play tennis.
You will not stick to a plan that includes doing everything that you dislike. It won’t happen. And it’s simply not going to keep your blood pressure down if you’re always stressed about doing an activity you hate.
Start by getting moving. Here are a few ideas:
- Exercise classes
You can even walk around a mall to help get your blood flowing. Exercise, particularly weight lifting, is also very good for you. Exercise will do a few, very good things for you:
- Helps you burn more calories
- Helps you build muscle
- Gets you out socializing
Even women should engage in weight lifting to help build and maintain their muscle mass as they age. A little effort will go a long way in ensuring that you lower your blood pressure, maintain a healthy weight and even de-stress.
Tim is a professional caregiver who has helped hundreds of seniors gain back their freedom and independence. He has been actively helping the senior community for 20+ years.