5 Lifestyle Changes For Better Blood Pressure
Dealing with hypertension or high blood pressure levels, may seem daunting given that it’s a chronic health issue that is influenced by so many factors, particularly lifestyle habits. The good news is, because it’s affected by lifestyle habits, improving those habits can also improve your blood pressure control.
Here are some lifestyle changes that you can make that may help improve your condition and keep you healthy for a longer period of time. Take note of these tips to help boost your well-being, if you have hypertension.
- Eat healthy food and follow the DASH Diet.
People with hypertension are usually advised to follow the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet. Strive to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and fat-free or low-fat dairy products.
Look for food choices that contain high amounts of potassium, calcium, magnesium, fiber, and protein.
Food choices that may provide these nutrients include whole wheat bread, brown rice, broccoli, carrots, tomatoes, apples, oranges, bananas, low-fat or fat-free cheese, almonds, walnuts, skinless chicken, lean cuts of beef, and vegetable oils like canola or olive oil. On the flipside, avoid food that’s high in sodium and trans fats, such as cakes, cookies, fried foods, margarine, meat and dairy products.
- Get as much exercise as you can.
In conjunction with a nutrient-rich diet mentioned above, strive to get as much exercise as you can. Weight gain is directly related to increased blood pressure levels. Eating right and working out may help with weight loss and eventually improve your BP levels. Having a normal weight is better for your blood pressure. However, regardless of your weight and whether or not you lose weight with exercise, exercise in itself is good for your heart and blood vessels. Studies have shown that blood pressure decreases after exercise and getting regular exercise will improve your blood pressure levels over the long term.
If you have hypertension, you may try aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, low-impact aerobics, swimming, or stretching. Some studies have also linked high-intensity interval training (HIIT) to numerous benefits, but because these workouts can be intense, seek the clearance of your physician first especially if you have been sedentary or inactive for a long time.
Make sure you get at least a total of two hours and 30 minutes of consistent moderate-intensity exercise weekly. Remember to warm up and cool down before and after your exercise to prevent instances of cramps, injury, or muscle soreness.
However, if you have been advised by a physician to avoid exercising due to your condition, be cautious and consult with them first before doing any strenuous physical activity. As much as possible, avoid workouts like weightlifting or sprinting that require intense movements for a short period of time. These workouts may raise blood pressure levels and may strain the heart and blood vessels.
You can also seek the advice of a physical trainer. They can help you create a routine that’s best suited to your current fitness level and guide you on proper execution of exercises.
- Stop smoking.
Research has shown that cigarette smoking may result in acute increases to both your heart rate and blood pressure levels. Smoking is one of the major preventable risk factors for cardiovascular disease. When you smoke, even if only inhaling secondhand smoke, it damages your blood vessels and contributes to the progression of atherosclerosis or plaque build-up within your arteries. In combination with other risk factors for cardiovascular disease like high blood pressure, smoking will further increase your chances of getting heart disease.
- Monitor your BP levels.
Regular monitoring, ideally on a daily basis, helps you and your doctor understand your current health status and catch potential red flags. There are several options for automated of digital BP monitors available in drugstores on online. Invest in your health and get one with good quality from a reliable brand.
- Take medicines if needed.
In the same vein, consult your physician so that the most appropriate medicine to manage your blood pressure can be prescribed for you. There are several types of anti-hypertensive medications listed below and your physician will be able to identify which will be most effective for you:
- Calcium channel blockers: These help your blood vessels relax, reducing the effort the heart needs to exert when it has to pump.
- Beta blockers: These medications help slow down heart rate and relax blood vessels, allowing easier flow of blood throughout the body.
- Angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors: These help widen your blood vessels so blood passes through better and reduce your blood pressure levels.
- Angiotensin II receptor blockers (ARBs): These aim to block the effects of angiotensin II, a chemical that’s known to narrow blood vessels and raise your risk for high blood pressure levels.
Always remember that these medicines are meant to be taken as prescribed by your physician. As such, buy and take these only if they’ve been recommended by a physician and follow dosage instructions and schedules.
Hopefully these tips give you an idea of how you can address high blood pressure levels with a few lifestyle changes. If symptoms persist, and you want to understand the cause of your condition more, talk to your doctor.