If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be concerned about taking medicine to lower your blood pressure.
The good news: making lifestyle changes can lower your blood pressure and lower your risk of heart disease.
Diet and physical activity play an essential role in treating high blood pressure.
Read on to find out how to control your blood pressure successfully; what changes you should make in your lifestyle to avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
How to lower blood pressure?
Here are seven lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure and keep it low.
- Lose the extra pounds
As a general rule of thumb, blood pressure increases as weight increases. Being overweight can also cause trouble breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), further increasing your blood pressure during the day.
Losing even a small amount of weight, if overweight or obese, can help lower your blood pressure. It can lower your blood pressure by about 1 millimeter of mercury for every kilogram of weight you lose.
- Exercise regularly
If you have high blood pressure, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension. Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure to safer levels if you already have hypertension.
Regular physical activity, about 40 minutes 5 – 3 days a week, can lower your blood pressure by 5 to 8 mm Hg. It is essential to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure can go back up.
Some exercises to lower blood pressure are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, and other aerobic sports. You can also try high intensity interval training or HIIT. This method involves alternating short bursts of vigorous activity with subsequent recovery periods of lighter activity.
- The DASH diet
Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and protein-rich foods low in bad fats can help lower your blood pressure.
Limiting saturated and trans fats can lower blood pressure by 11 mm Hg. This eating plan is known as the DASH diet and was created by medical professionals to lower blood pressure.
Be a savvy shopper. When shopping, read food labels and stick to your healthy eating plan when dining out.
- Reduce the amount of salt
To lower blood pressure, even a slight reduction in sodium in your diet can improve your heart health and lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 6 mm Hg.
As a general rule, a sodium limit of 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day is used; this is equivalent to 5 grams of table salt. However, a lower sodium intake (1,500 mg a day or less) is ideal for lowering blood pressure.
To reduce sodium in your diet, you can eat less processed foods. Do not add unnecessary salt and substitute it for seasonings. Herbs or spices will add flavor to your food and help reduce the amount of salt.
- Alcohol in moderation
Alcohol can be good and bad for your heart health. Drink one drink per day: a glass of wine and a can of beer can lower your blood pressure by about 4mm Hg.
However, these effects are lost if you consume alcohol in excess. Drinking more than one alcoholic drink per day can raise blood pressure. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.
- Stop smoking
Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for several minutes after you finish. Quitting smoking helps bring your blood pressure back to normal.
Quitting smoking can lower your risk of heart disease and improve your overall health. People who quit smoking may live longer than those who never left.
- Reduce stress
Chronic stress can contribute to raising blood pressure at various points. Occasional stress can also contribute to high blood pressure if you react by eating unhealthy foods, drinking alcohol, or smoking.
Take some time to think about what causes stress, such as work, family, finances, or illness. Once you know what is causing your stress, consider how you can reduce it.
If you can’t eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least deal with them more healthily. For example, plan your day and take time to relax and do activities that you enjoy.
Practice gratitude for making time for enjoyable activities or hobbies, such as taking a walk, cooking, and enjoying yourself with your family. Expressing gratitude to others can help reduce your stress.
If you have hypertension, check your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly.
Frequent check-ups at home can help ensure your lifestyle changes are working and alert you to potential health complications.
Regular visits to your doctor are also essential to control your blood pressure. Check with your doctor about how often to check it. Your doctor may suggest that you do check-ups daily or less frequently.
Receive support from family and friends who can help you improve your health. They can encourage you to take care of yourself or join you in an exercise program to keep your blood pressure low.
If you need support beyond your family and friends, consider joining a support group. This can put you in touch with people who can give you an emotional or morale boost and offer you practical advice in dealing with your condition.
Lowering the pressure without medication is possible. Lifestyle and diet changes tend to work well for most people.
Reducing your salt, saturated and trans fats are fundamental dietary changes to lower blood pressure. Also, limiting alcohol, not smoking, and exercising can help lower your blood pressure.
If you have hypertension, checking your blood pressure frequently can help you verify that treatments are working.