High blood pressure is a serious condition that can increase the risk of developing stroke, heart disease, or kidney disease. Since there are usually no symptoms, it is important to get your blood pressure checked on a regular basis. Following a healthy diet plan and exercise can help control the condition, but in order to maintain healthy BP levels, you must make changes to your daily habits for a much healthier lifestyle.
To get started, follow these easy tips to help decrease your high blood pressure:
Moderate exercise, like brisk walking, is shown to be more effective at lowering BP than commonly used medications. This is because regular exercise helps the heart benefit from better oxygen flow, so it doesn’t have to work so hard on pumping blood.
Try to follow the NHS recommendations for exercise – 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous, exercise per week. Over time, you can increase your workout by adding some weights or increasing your speed. You can also keep a diary of your exercise plan to monitor the duration of your workouts and the best schedule that works for you.
The human body reacts to stress by releasing hormones like adrenaline and cortisol into the blood. These stress hormones can increase the heart rate and restrict the blood flow in the arteries, thus causing your BP to spike.
To reduce stress, consider meditating for half an hour a day. Practicing yoga or tai chi will help keep stress hormones – and high blood pressure – at bay.
Eat potassium-rich foods
Eating plenty of potassium-rich fruits and veg plays an important role in lowering blood pressure. Potassium is highly beneficial for the kidneys as it helps them excrete any excess sodium through urination. Fruits and vegetables high in potassium include bananas, potatoes, cantaloupe, honeydew, dried fruits like raisins and prunes, and tomatoes. A glass of warm lemon drink in the morning before breakfast is another effective way of lowering your blood pressure levels.
Work fewer hours
Working more than 40 hours a week at the office can raise the risk of developing hypertension. If you must work overtime and there is no possibility of reducing your hours at the workplace, you should eat more fruits and vegetables as well as exercise more often.
While it’s not always easy to leave work a few hours early, try to plan the rest of your day so you can fit in a workout session at the gym followed by cooking a healthy meal afterward. This can be done by setting an end-of-day reminder on your phone or computer.
Lose those excess pounds
Losing any excess fat and maintaining a healthy weight will significantly help lower your blood pressure. Even losing as little as 5 pounds can make a big difference.
Things to avoid:
• Smoking: tobacco products can increase your blood pressure for up to 1 hour after you smoke. Passive smoking is also just as harmful in this regard.
• Reduce your caffeine intake: caffeinated drinks can temporarily spike BP levels, and although the effect is not long-lasting, it’s best to drink such beverages in moderation.
• Reduce stress: According to studies, stress or anxiety can significantly increase BP, so try to keep calm or turn to meditation for stress management.
• Cut out the salt: if you have a high sodium diet, you are at a higher risk of hypertension.
When to see a doctor
If you have tried all the above methods already and still don’t see much improvement in your blood pressure levels, you should see your doctor for advice. You may be prescribed medication to reduce your blood pressure. Your doctor will recommend a once-a-year checkup to monitor the condition and guide you on the best diet plan that will work for you.