High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is one of the major causes of heart disease and stroke. That said, it often doesn’t have symptoms, making it hard to know that there’s a problem before it’s too late.
According to data from the CDC, around half of adults in the U.S. suffer from high blood pressure (1).
When a physician checks your blood pressure, the number you see depends on two factors: the amount of blood your heart is pumping and the amount of resistance to blood flow in your arteries. If your arteries are narrow, your blood pressure will be higher.
If you discover that you have hypertension, make some changes to get your blood pressure down to a healthy level. Here are some of the many steps you can take to lower it.
We live in a sedentary society where most people don’t get enough exercise throughout the day. However, studies show that regular resistance and aerobic exercise is one of the best ways to lower your blood pressure (2).
Experts recommend staying semi-active throughout the day, then getting three to four 40-minute sessions of intense activity each week. Remember that getting active can be as simple as swimming, riding a bike, running with a dog, or even gardening.
Avoid excess sugar
Diet has a huge effect on blood pressure. Unfortunately, many Americans get far more sugar than they should, even though excessive amounts can lead to hypertension.
If you find yourself craving something sweet, try grabbing a piece of fruit or a dark chocolate bar before turning to cookies, cakes, or ice cream. Desserts such as those contain high amounts of refined sugars and carbohydrates.
In addition to helping you lower your blood pressure, cutting back on sugar and carbs can also help you feel fuller longer.
Cut down on sodium
While it’s not always as bad as sugar, too much sodium can have a similar effect on the body. Many people are salt-sensitive, so when they eat too much sodium, it stays in their bodies and causes their blood pressure to climb up.
A good rule of thumb is to avoid eating too many processed foods, as these often contain a lot of sodium. Doing so will help keep your salt levels down, thereby keeping your blood pressure at a healthy level.
Quitting smoking might be hard to do, but it’s one of the best steps you can take to prioritize your health. Doing so can also help lower your blood pressure.
Cigarettes contain chemicals that can cause your arteries to narrow. They also damage your blood vessel walls, leading to inflammation and other issues. All of that can cause you to develop high blood pressure.
Are you someone who constantly feels anxious or stressed? That’s not surprising, given the times, but you’ll still want to do what you can to manage your stress levels. Too much of it can lead to high blood pressure.
If you’re looking for ways to unwind, do what you enjoy. Whether it’s enjoying a skincare routine after a long day, reading a book, or taking ten minutes to do yoga, find a way to give your mind a break.
Get plenty of sleep
Most people’s blood pressure levels decrease a bit when they sleep. When you don’t get enough rest over time, that can increase your chances of developing hypertension.
Shoot for seven to nine hours a night, and try your best to stick to a consistent sleep schedule. In addition to lowering your blood pressure levels, getting plenty of sleep also provides you with the energy you need to look and feel your best!
High blood pressure may be common, but it can lead to serious health complications. If you’re experiencing it, try out some of the methods mentioned to help get it under control.
And remember—don’t be afraid to get some professional advice from your doctor!