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By making these 10 changes in lifestyle, you can lower your blood pressure, reduce your risk of heart disease.
If you have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be concerned about taking medications to reduce your numbers.
Lifestyle plays an important role in the treatment of high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you can avoid, delay or reduce the need for medications.
Here are 10 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it low.
1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waist.
Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Overweight can also cause interrupted breathing while sleeping (sleep apnea), which further increases blood pressure.
Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes to control blood pressure. Losing only 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your blood pressure.
In addition to losing weight, you should generally watch your waist too. Carrying too much weight around your waist can increase the risk of high blood pressure.
Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches (102 centimeters).
Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches (89 centimeters).
These numbers vary among ethnic groups. Ask your doctor about a healthy waist measurement for you.
2. Exercise regularly
Regular physical activity for at least 30 minutes most days of the week can lower your blood pressure from 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg). It is important to be consistent because if you stop exercising, your blood pressure may increase again.
If you have slightly high blood pressure (prehypertension), exercise can help you avoid the development of hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can lower your blood pressure to safer levels.
The best types of exercise to lower blood pressure include walking, jogging, biking, swimming or dancing. Strength training can also help reduce blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about the development of an exercise program.
3. Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimping on saturated fat and cholesterol can lower your blood pressure by up to 14 mm Hg. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet.
It is not easy to change your eating habits, but with these tips, you can adopt a healthy diet:
Keep a food diary. Writing what you eat, even for just a week, can shed a surprising light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.
Consider increasing potassium. Potassium can decrease the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, instead of supplements. Talk to your doctor about the level of potassium that is best for you.
Be a smart buyer Read food labels when you shop and follow your healthy eating plan when you go out to eat as well.
4. Reduce sodium in your diet.
Even a small reduction in sodium in your diet can reduce blood pressure from 2 to 8 mm Hg.
The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies between groups of people. In general, limit sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) per day or less. However, a lower sodium intake, 1,500 mg per day or less, is appropriate for people with higher sensitivity to salt, which include:
Anyone 51 years of age or older
Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease.
To decrease sodium in your diet, consider these tips:
Read food's labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives to the foods and drinks you normally buy.
Eat less processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in food. Most of the sodium is added during processing.
Do not add salt. Only 1 level of teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
Ease in him. If you do not feel that you can drastically reduce sodium in your diet suddenly, decrease gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.
5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Alcohol can be good or bad for your health. In small amounts, you can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg.
But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol, usually more than one drink a day for women and men over 65, or more than two a day for men 65 and younger. One drink equals 12 ounces of beer, five ounces of wine or 1.5 ounces of 80-degree liquor.
Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can raise blood pressure at several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of medications for blood pressure.
6. stop smoking
Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Stopping smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal.