It’s happened. You go to the doctor and get the diagnosis: high blood pressure. Now you’re possibly looking down the barrel of long term anti-hypertensive medications. However, taking medication isn’t the only way to control your blood pressure. There are several lifestyle changes that you can implement to help lower your blood pressure and help it stay that way.
One of the main reasons you may find that your blood pressure is rising is that your weight is increasing. Being overweight and staying that way can cause other problems such as sleep apnoea while you sleep, raising your blood pressure.
This may seem like a given, but weight loss is an effective measure to take to help lower blood pressure. Losing even a little bit of weight can help your blood pressure tremendously. With every kilo lost, you can reduce your blood pressure by around 1 millimeter of mercury.
A helpful way to think about how fat loss helps, is that for every kilo of fat lost, you loose 500metres of blood vessels. For example, if Bob and Jane were to blow water through equal diameter hoses and Bob’s was only a foot long and Jane’s was 10metres long, who would have to blow harder? …. Jane. The reason for this is that Jane is blowing against more peripheral resistance. It’s a very similar concept with fat loss. If you lose 1kg of fat, your heart is pumping against 500m less of blood vessels, which is less peripheral resistance and less hard that the heart needs to pump.
Keep Up an Exercise Regimen
If you have high blood pressure, a steady exercise regimen of 30-60 minutes, 4-5 days a week can help lower your blood pressure by about 5 to 8 millimeters of mercury. This needs to be a long-term habit.
Simple exercises such as walking, jogging, cycling, swimming, or dancing can be beneficial when lowering blood pressure. Interspersing short bursts of high interval training can also help. You can also include strength training into your regimen, as it can help build muscle mass, consequently increasing your Basal Metabolic Rate and therefore potentially reducing fat which then reduces blood pressure. If you choose to include strength training, you should use it at least twice a week.
This is one of the best ways that you can work to reduce your blood pressure by about 5 to 6 millimeters of mercury. Sodium (salt) increases blood pressure by an osmotic effect – it keeps fluid in your blood vessels and thus increases the pressure. You generally want to limit your sodium intake to around 2,300 milligrams a day. If you can lower that intake to about 1,500 milligrams a day, that’s even better.
There are many ways that you can decrease your sodium intake. Reading food labels and choosing the low-sodium alternatives available can be incredibly helpful. Avoiding processed foods is essential. Sodium isn’t typically found in natural foods; it’s mostly added after, during the processing period. You can also avoid using salt in your food, as one level teaspoon of salt has around 2,300 mg of sodium.
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