Increased blood pressure is one of the common illnesses of the 21st century. It has many causes but sedentary lifestyles, poor diet and stress play major roles in this dangerous condition. The medications used to lower blood pressure have been shown to have adverse side-effects and many patients wish to avoid them. Here are 4 ways to reduce your blood pressure without drugs.
Maintain a healthy weight range.
Most people who are very over-weight have elevated blood pressure. Carrying extra weight puts added strain on your heart and blood vessels. Once you get your weight under control, it is important to maintain it within a range of around 3 lb or 5 kg.
These simple guidelines help you determine if you need to lose weight – men are more at risk of elevated blood pressure if their waist measurement is above 40 inches or 102 cm; for women, the measurement is more than 35 inches or 88cm.
Weight control doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Start with a positive, can-do attitude. Eat a diet that is high in fresh vegetables, small portions of lean protein and whole grains. Eliminate or strictly limit foods that are high in fat or sugar; this includes most fast food and highly-processed food.
Regular exercise, of moderate intensity and duration, helps to lower your blood pressure by strengthening the heart muscle so it doesn’t have to work so hard to pump your blood through your arteries. Physical activity is also necessary for weight control; in fact, a common adage for losing weight is ‘eat less and move more’.
Even short periods of activity are beneficial, so start your exercise program with a 10 minute walk around your neighborhood. Ask your doctor about a suitable exercise regime to suit you.
Gradually build up to 30 minutes of moderate exercise at least 5 or 6 days of the week. Mix it up to prevent boredom and to work all muscle groups for the best results. Join a gym if you want to but you can get the same benefits by walking, cycling, swimming, gardening or washing the car.
Regular, consistent exercise is needed to help lower your blood pressure; a long session once a week or just being active on weekends won’t do the job. If you work long hours or travel distances to and from your work, go for a short, brisk walk during your lunch break. An added advantage is that you will return to work with extra energy and focus to finish the day.
Stress is a major cause of high blood pressure and so it is important to learn how to manage the stress in your life. While a little stress is good for us, it is when that stress becomes chronic, or on-going, that health issues develop.
The first step is to identify what causes you to feel stressed; knowing what your stressors are will help you address the situation. Once you know what situations cause you the most stress, look for ways that you can manage those events differently. Some of the most effective strategies include delegating some tasks, asking for assistance to complete projects, learning to say ‘no’ when you know you have enough on your plate, seeking professional advice and making sure you take regular time-out for relaxation and enjoyable activities.
The nicotine contained in all tobacco products raises your blood pressure for an hour after you light up. People who smoke throughout the day may have elevated blood pressure for most of the day.
It is also important to avoid being where you can be affected by other people’s smoking, also referred to as secondhand smoke as this can also affect your blood pressure.
Put these strategies in place in your life and help to reduce your blood pressure without drugs. Some patients with high blood pressure have been able to stop taking their medication after making these lifestyle changes but you must consult your physician before changing any prescribed medication.