High blood pressure is one of those chronic conditions that responds very well to lifestyle changes. By making these 10 lifestyle changes, you can lower your blood pressure and reduce your risk of heart disease.
1. Lose weight
Maintain a normal body weight with a body mass index between 18.5 and 24.9. In general, the more weight you lose, the lower your blood pressure. Keep an eye on your waistline.
- Asian men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 36 inches (91 cm).
- Asian women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 32 inches (81 cm).
2. Change how you eat
Adopt a healthy eating program high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and low-fat dairy, and low in saturated and total fat. This is called the DASH eating plan: Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension.
3. Cut back on salt
Limit sodium to no more than 2.4 grams a day—that’s only 1 teaspoon a day. Without salt, meals may seem bland for a couple of days, but your taste buds can easily be retrained. Add more pepper and, if that doesn’t appeal, try garlic, lemon, ginger, basil or other spicy flavours you enjoy.
4. Active life
Add at least 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity such as brisk walking most days of the week. Regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure. Your doctor can help determine whether you need any exercise restrictions.
5. Reduce your stress
Stress or anxiety can temporarily increase blood pressure. Take breaks for deep-breathing exercises. Get a massage or take up yoga or meditation. If self-help doesn’t work, seek out a professional for counseling.
6. Cut back on caffeine
The role caffeine plays in blood pressure is still debatable. Drinking caffeinated beverages can temporarily cause a spike in your blood pressure. Studies have found that drink tea instead of coffee is better to reduce blood pressure.
7. Go for dark chocolate
Turn to dark chocolate when your sweet tooth asserts itself. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolate is rich in flavonoids that keep your arteries flexible, preventing the increase in pressure that come with stiffer blood vessels.
8. Limit alcohol
If you drink more than moderate amounts, alcohol can raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of high blood pressure medications.
9. Quit smoking
If you smoke, make a plan to quit as soon as possible, with help from your health care professional. Even passive smoking (inhaling smoke from other smokers) can increase your blood pressure.
10. Sleep well
Get used to a routine of regular 6-8 hours sleep. Studies suggest that being exposed to noise while you’re sleeping may increase your blood pressure as well as your heart rate, so block out any noise using an ear plug.