Blood pressure normally rises and falls throughout the day, but it can damage your heart and cause health problems if it stays high for a long time. Having high blood pressure puts you at risk for heart disease and stroke. These are the leading causes of death in the United States.
But you can lower your blood pressure with the following lifestyle changes: weight loss, regular exercise, smoking cessation, and eating a healthy diet.
So, let’s take a closer look at each of these healthy lifestyle changes, to see how they can help lower your blood pressure.
The first thing you’ll need to do is to determine your target weight. Knowing your body/mass index ratio and what level is healthy for your height and age can greatly increase your heart health. Carrying extra weight in your midsection makes you more likely to have high blood pressure and thus a higher risk of cardiovascular and kidney issues.
Speak with your doctor about ways to lose weight, and consider slight modifications to your diet.
Eating healthy can sound vague, so knowing what foods are better or worse for you is essential.
The DASH Diet is designed to lower blood pressure. DASH stands for Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension. It will get you to eat more fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy products. You’ll also decrease the amount of saturated fat and total fat in your diet.
The Mediterranean Diet is another one you can try. There’s no single Mediterranean diet plan, but in general, you'd be eating lots of fruits and vegetables, beans and nuts, healthy grains, fish, olive oil, small amounts of meat and dairy, and red wine.
You can also try new foods that are low in sodium and high in Omega-3s, and drink more water. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables on a daily basis will also increase your intake of potassium. Limiting your alcohol and caffeine consumption will help lower your blood pressure, too.
And when it comes to snacking, consider nuts, fresh fish and leaner meats as alternatives to fried food snacks, like chips and fast food hamburgers.
Regular exercise is a staple of any good heart-health plan. And the good news is that you don't need to run a marathon every day. Just increasing your movement and physical activity level on a daily basis can go a long way to developing a healthier you.
The updated physical activity guidelines for Americans make it easier to reach your goals. The key is getting regular exercise or working in enough movement that adds up to about 30 minutes each day.
You can even start small. Try going on a walk around the neighborhood after dinner, or parking in the last row at the grocery store. Any extra steps you take during the day will be an extra step toward increasing your heart and kidney health.
Not only will your blood pressure go down, but you will also decrease your risk for several types of cancer.
Taking these four steps to lower your blood pressure will not only help you now, but it will increase your chances of having a healthy heart and kidneys later. Just be sure to consult with your doctor about incorporating any of the following lifestyle changes.
Blood pressure checks are just one of the important screenings you should be getting later in life. Our “Health Screenings Guide” can help you keep track of which tests you should be getting and at what age.