Though your risk of high blood pressure increases with age, managing it with exercise can make a world of difference. This doesn’t mean you need to become a marathon runner or even join a gym. Consistency is key; it’s wise to start slow by adding more physical activity into your daily routine.
Regular physical activity strengthens the heart by helping it pump more blood throughout the body with less effort. According to the Mayo Clinic, becoming more active can lower your systolic blood pressure an average of 4 to 9 mm Hg. So, for some people, incorporating light to moderate exercise can be enough to reduce the need for medication.
It takes one to three months for regular exercise to impact your blood pressure, and the benefits last as long as you continue to do so. In today’s blog, we’ll be sharing 17 ways you can lower your blood pressure.
What is High Blood Pressure?
According to the AHA, “High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is when your blood pressure, the force of your blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels, is consistently too high.”
High blood pressure can lead to stroke, vision loss, heart failure, heart attack, and kidney disease.
Signs of High Blood Pressure
Always consult with your doctor to confirm if you actually have high blood pressure. Some signs of blood pressure could be the following:
Shortness of breath
If you believe you have any of these symptoms, be sure to visit your local doctor. Come visit Craft Concierge if you happen to be in a near by area. See if we’re in a location near you to check on your blood pressure levels.
How to Lower Blood Pressure: Lifestyle Changes
#1: Dietary Adjustments
There’s no question that consuming more fruits, vegetables, low-fat and healthy portions of lean meats can be beneficial for blood pressure. Try consuming these restaurant food, which can be very high in unhealthy fats and sodium.
#2: Maintain a Healthy Weight
According to AHA: Losing even a small amount of weight if you’re overweight can help reduce blood pressure. Monitor your waistline, as carrying too much weight around your waist can increase blood pressure. Try simple exercises such as walking to help lose some weight. Consult with a doctor to see the condition of your heart can handle certain vigorous exercises.
#3: Regular Physical Activity
According to the CDC, engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity a week. Strength training exercises at least two days a week can also help.
#4: Manage Stress
Practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga. Engage in hobbies and activities that you find relaxing. Engaging in these activities allows the heart to not be in a stressed state and can lower blood pressure levels throughout any of these practices.
#5: Quit Smoking
Smoking increases blood pressure and harms your overall lung and heart health. Seek support for quitting, including counseling, medications, or nicotine replacement therapy.
#6: Limit Caffeine Intake
The impact of caffeine on blood pressure isn’t clear, but it’s possible that blood pressure may slightly increase with caffeine consumption. Blood pressure levels may increase differently than others. Consult your doctor if caffeine is safe for your to ingest.
#7: Get Enough Sleep
Aim for 7-8 hours of quality sleep per night. Be sure to address any sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or insomnia. Having trouble sleeping means that your blood pressure remains at a higher level for longer periods of time. When you sleep at night, your blood pressure goes down. This is known as nocturnal dipping.
#8: Limit Alcohol Consumption
Alchohol and blood pressure are not great friends. Even just regular consumption of alcohol can increase blood pressure immensly. According to AHA limiting yourself to the following:
2 Drink A Day – Men
1 Drink a Day – Women
5 oz. of wine
12 oz. of beer
1.5 oz of hard liquor.
Dietary Supplements and Alternative Therapies
#9: Potassium-rich Foods
Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. Foods like bananas, oranges, sweet potatoes, avocados, salmon, white potatoes,and spinach are good sources.
#10: Calcium and Magnesium
Adequate intake of these minerals is important for blood pressure regulation. Magnesium and calcium work together by helping reduce vascular resistance and increasing nitric oxide. Speak with your doctor about how much you should consume per day.
#11: Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Found in fish oil and flaxseeds, they can have a modest effect on lowering blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about taking an omega-3 supplement to improve your blood pressure levels.
#12: Drink More Water
Drinking water over soda is always the best alternative. This can help decrease sugar intake from soft drinks or juices which can lead to weight gain.
#13: Garlic Supplements
Some studies suggest garlic supplements can help lower blood pressure, though consult a doctor before starting any supplement.
#14: Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is full of an antioxidant such as flavonoids. Flavonoids have been shown to help reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure. Plus chamomile tea is a great way to simmer down for the day and relax.
#15: Dark Chocolate
Just like Chomomile tea, cacao is full of flavonoids. It’s not recommended to consume large amount of dark chocolate, however, the likelihood that dark chocolate will help prevent high blood pressure is unlikely. It is considered to be a better alternative if you are craving something sweet.
#16: Little or No Processed Foods
It’s so easy to stop at your nearest fast food restaurant and pick up something to eat. Unfortunately, these food chains serve foods that are high in sodium and sugar. This could lead to potential weight gain which will in return lead to high blood pressure. Try making at home meals instead. Perhaps an apple a day can make the doctor go away.
#17: Reduce Sodium Intake
Reduce sodium intake. Aim for less than 2,300 milligrams a day and ideally move towards 1,500 milligrams. If keeping track is difficult, try to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet.
How much exercise do I need?
Engaging in aerobic activity is a great way to control high blood pressure. However, this doesn’t require you to spend hours in a gym every day. Any exercise that increases your heart and breathing rate is considered aerobic.
Aerobic activity ranges from household chores like sweeping, gardening or mowing the lawn to heart-healthy exercises like jogging, cycling and swimming. It can also be as simple as taking a walk around your neighborhood or dancing in the living room with your spouse. It doesn’t have to be grueling! In fact, many find it’s easier to implement exercise when it’s an activity you look forward to or have an accountability partner to share the experience with.
What kind of exercise should I choose?
Though aerobic activity is effective for controlling blood pressure, it’s also important to incorporate flexibility and strength training in your overall fitness plan. The National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends engaging in flexibility training before and after your workout. Not only does it improve your movement and athletic performance, but it can also relax your body and mind.
Flexibility exercises like yoga, tai chi and stretching can loosen up your muscles prior to a workout and be used afterward to prevent injury and soreness. Exercises such as weightlifting and rowing can also attribute to a well-rounded program. These activities can help strengthen your bones, connective tissues and muscle mass – making it easier for your body to burn calories and maintain a healthy weight.
What if my health isn’t the best?
If you have really high blood pressure, it’s always best to consult with your doctor first before adding weight training to your fitness routine. If you’re taking any medication, ask if exercise will alter the strength of the medication, change its side effects or affect the way your body reacts to physical activity as a whole.
You may also want to check with your doctor before jumping into an exercise program if you:
- Are a man older than age 45
- Are a woman older than age 55
- Smoke or have quit in the past six months
- Are overweight or obese
- Have a chronic health condition such as diabetes, cardiovascular or lung disease
- Have high cholesterol levels
- Have had a heart attack or other coronary event
- Have a family history of heart-related health problems
- Feel pain or discomfort in your chest, jaw, neck or arms during activity
- Become dizzy with physical exertion
Incorporating aerobic, flexibility and strength training exercises together into your day-to-day may seem like a lot at first. But, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to set aside all that time at once. For example, you can breakdown your workout into three 10-minute sessions and enjoy the same benefits you would in a single 30-minute session.
To reduce the risk of injury, we recommend starting slowly. Always warm up before you work out and take the time to cool down afterward. As you build strength, endurance and flexibility, you can adjust the intensity of your workout. If you experience any signs like dizziness, shortness of breath, tightness in the chest or an irregular heartbeat, stop exercising and seek medical attention.
How Should I Monitor My Blood Pressure?
The best way to detect any changes in your blood pressure is by having it checked during each doctor’s visit or by using a blood pressure monitor at home. If you already have high blood pressure, home monitoring can let you know if your fitness routine is helping to lower your blood pressure.
Home monitoring can reduce the frequency of your medical visits. However, it isn’t a substitute for them as home blood pressure monitors do have some limitations. Work closely with your doctor to develop a routine that’s right for you. And if you decide to monitor your blood pressure at home, check it before you exercise to obtain the most accurate readings.
Contact Craft Concierge To Improve Your Blood Pressure
If you have high blood pressure, exercise can help you avoid developing hypertension. Or if you already have hypertension, engaging in regular physical activity can help bring it down to a safer level. When it comes to heart health, small lifestyle changes can work together in unison to create a lasting impact.
High blood pressure and high cholesterol are the two leading causes of heart disease. By making changes in your nutrition, physical activity and daily habits, you can greatly reduce your risk of heart disease. To learn more about high blood pressure, common risk factors of heart disease or to learn more about our cardiovascular program, we invite you to reach out at (918) 203-8000 to discuss a solution that’s right for you.