If your doctor says your blood pressure is high, these 8 important lifestyle changes can help lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
If your doctor advised you that you need to lower your blood pressure and you’re not ready to take medication, there are several options you can choose. It’s a combination of healthy eating and exercise that’s quite doable.
First, you should know that a normal blood pressure reading is when the top number is between 90 and 120 and the bottom number is between 60 and 80. If your numbers are high, you need to make a few lifestyle changes.
Being overweight — especially carrying pounds around your waistline — can increase your blood pressure. Losing the weight will lower your blood pressure numbers, making you feel better.
That means cutting down on salt and high sodium foods. If you’re unsure of the amount of sodium in the foods you’re eating, start reading the labels. You don’t have to eliminate these foods; you just need to cut back on them and replace some of these foods with low- or no-salt versions.
Add fresh fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. These foods can lower your blood pressure and improve your heart health. Potassium, found in fruits and vegetables, lessens the negative effects that sodium has on blood pressure.
If you like to have several cups of coffee a day, cut back to one or two cups. Caffeine can raise blood pressure. Substitute decaf or tea, both of which contain less caffeine than regular coffee. Also, cut out sodas with caffeine. (It’s a good idea to avoid drinking all soda, including diet soda.)
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink. A small amount of red wine — one glass a day — can actually lower your blood pressure. More than that on a regular basis will raise your blood pressure.
Allow yourself a treat every once in a while. A piece of dark chocolate or dark chocolate drizzled over fresh popped popcorn is a healthy snack. Dark chocolate is a heart healthy food that can actually lower your high blood pressure. Just practice moderation.
If you smoke, the reasons to quit are numerous. Each cigarette you inhale increases your blood pressure. The good news is that after you quit, your blood pressure can return to normal.
Take a walk. Join a gym. Turn on some dance music and exercise in the privacy of your home. All you need is 30 minutes a day. Exercise has been proven to lower blood pressure. It also reduces stress.
That’s where exercise, yoga, and meditation come in. Find one exercise that you enjoy doing, and stick to it. Meditation can also lower stress, which is a perfect way to lower your blood pressure. Commit to a few minutes each morning.
If you are in a negative relationship or are having a hard time at work or home, talk to someone who can offer some support. If you feel yourself getting tense, take a few deep breathes, and if possible, take a walk.
It’s all about feeling happy and calm. Sometimes listening to your favorite music can make you feel joyful and lower your high blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor about your lifestyle changes. If you are suffering from anxiety, speak to a professional counselor. Sometimes an outsider — such as a social worker or psychologist — can help you manage your stress.
April 05, 2017
Janet O’Dell, RN