Do you have high blood pressure? There are many health risks associated with high blood pressure including risk of stroke and heart attack. It’s not a foregone conclusion though; there are things you can do to reduce your blood pressure and live a healthier lifestyle.
Physical Steps You Can Take
Much about blood pressure depends on our physical lifestyle choices – diet and exercise. Simple changes can improve blood pressure.
The first and most obvious step is to lose weight. Reduce your fatty foods intake, eat less junk food and smaller portion. Ensure you get a good range of vitamins and minerals and eat plenty of salad, fruit and vegetables. You need to aim to get your body into a healthy weight range and waistline. Men with a waistline over 40” and women over 35” are at particularly high risk. For many reasons, you should aim for a long-term and sustainable target of much lower than that. Much of our blood pressure depends on our body weight.
Get More Exercise
We put this separately because even somebody in a healthy weight range can have high blood pressure, especially if they lead a sedentary lifestyle. We naturally assume that slimmer means healthier, but being a normal body size without getting enough exercise leads to health problems of its own. While weight increases your risk, getting exercise no matter your body size will reduce your blood pressure. Cardio exercises are best – brisk walking, running/jogging and dancing although any exercise is good for your health. It’s important to keep up a regime or your blood pressure will return to its previous higher level.
Reduce Your Salt Intake
We’ve known about the need to reduce salt in our diet for years. Food manufacturers have taken steps to reduce them in pre-prepared food (ready meals in particular). We need salt, but perhaps reduce the amount you put on and in your food. You can still buy salt with reduced sodium; opt for this where possible.
Mental Steps You Can Take
We all lead difficult and stressful lives, rushing around and not taking the time to slow down a little. Here are some basic mental steps you can take to help reduce blood pressure.
Meditation / Mindfulness
Mindfulness may be all the rage at the moment, but it’s more than a passing fad. It’s essentially the same as meditation but you don’t need to be a spiritual person to practice it. Both are about enjoying the moment and focusing on the small things. It helps distract from the things causing us stress. Simply sitting on a beach with the sun on your face and listening to the sound of rolling waves can be an act of mindfulness.
Take Some “Down Time”
We’re losing sight of what is important. At work, we skip lunches because we have too much to do. We take our work home with us. We let it give us sleepless nights. We think about work at the weekends. This is not good for our mental health. You may not realise that such stress triggers also affect your blood pressure. Take time out every day to do something relaxing. Simply sit and enjoy a cup of tea in the garden, enjoy time with friends or just sit and do nothing. It’s important to disconnect from the world occasionally.
Take a Holiday or Day Out
The annual summer holiday, whether at home or abroad, can do you the world of good. They are great for completely disconnecting because you are so far away from what is normal for you. It’s not just expensive foreign holidays that help; simply going out for the day at the weekend can be good for you too. Make sure you do something relaxing on bank holidays. If you’re self-employed, take a random day off from time to time.