If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you’re probably looking for things to do to lower blood pressure, but you’re probably also worried — most of them will be difficult, painful, or at least unpleasant. Not true! While some of the ways to lower blood pressure require lifestyle changes, every one of them will benefit you in other ways too, making you all-around more fit, healthy, and yes, happy. Here are 9 things to do to lower blood pressure.
1. Exercise Regularly
Regular exercise has been shown to greatly reduce high blood pressure it two distinct but inter-related ways. First, regular exercise can help you lose weight, which is one of the key ways to lower blood pressure. Second, it helps reduce stress, another of the factors in lowering blood pressure.
2. Watch Your Waist!
Research has shown that men and women who are thick around the middle are much more prone to high blood pressure than other people who have weight issues, but in other areas of their bodies. This is, again, where regular exercise can come into play as a way to lower blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, use your waistline as a gauge of your success is lowering it: as your waistline shrinks, so should your blood pressure, along with it.
3. Reduce Sodium
Scientists have long known of the link between a sodium-rich diet and high blood pressure, but for those of us who crave salty snacks, this is hard to acknowledge. Our palates develop at a young age, and like other long-time bad habits, it’s hard to break a sodium addiction. Don’t try to cut it out of your diet entirely, all at once. Rather, gradually decrease your sodium intake, to lessen the shock and ensure you’ll have more success.
4. Reduce Alcohol
I’m a teetotaler, so this is no big sacrifice for me. But if you love your martinis and other mixed drinks, you’ll want to save the alcohol for special occasions, since alcohol use has also been very directly linked to high blood pressure. Reducing alcohol use, rather than cutting it out altogether, is another things to do to lower blood pressure, so be aware of this when you plan your next dinner party or girls’ night out — have non-alcoholic alternatives available.
5. Quit Smoking
You knew this had to be on the list! That’s right: along with a bevy of other chronic and deadly health problems attributed to smoking, add high blood pressure to the list. Research has shown that the sooner you quit smoking, the faster your body will recover, so quit now! Don’t wait!
6. Cut out Caffeine
This one was difficult for me, because I love my morning cup of Earl Grey tea. But since giving up caffeine is another way to lower blood pressure, it had to be done… Fortunately, giving up caffeine doesn’t have to mean depriving yourself of something you love… that’s what decaf is for, right?
7. Cope with Stress
Remember back in point one when I mentioned that regular exercise is a healthy way to cope with stress? Since not coping with high levels of stress can lead to sky-high blood pressure, another thing to do to lower blood pressure has to center around coping with stress in a healthy way, a way that doesn’t involve alcohol or cigarettes or salty snacks. One that hopefully involves regular exercise or yoga or meditation or … you get the idea.
8. Find a Friend
I can’t overstate the importance of getting support in your battle against high blood pressure. An understanding, compassionate friend will encourage you when you’re feeling like you’re not making progress, and maybe even take that yoga class with you. After all, that’s what friends are for, right — bending into pretzel shapes and giggling about it for days after?
While some of these ways to lower blood pressure may sound intimidating or downright horrifying (give up chips and cigarettes and martinis?), they’re all necessary for getting you fit and healthy again. And really, all of these things will make you healthy and happy in so many other ways, too, so why not give them a try? Which of these things to do to lower blood pressure scares you the most, and why? Will you promise to try them anyway, and let me know how it goes? Please?
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