Lifestyle plays an important role in treating your high blood pressure. If you successfully control your blood pressure with a healthy lifestyle, you might avoid, delay or reduce the need for medication.
Lose extra pounds
Being overweight can cause disrupted breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds can help reduce your blood pressure. Carrying too much weight around your waist can put you at greater risk of high blood pressure.
- Men are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 40 inches.
- Women are at risk if their waist measurement is greater than 35 inches.
- These numbers vary among ethnic groups. Ask your doctor about a healthy waist measurement for you.
Reduce sodium in your diet
Even a small reduction can reduce blood pressure by 2 to 8 mm Hg. The effect of sodium intake on blood pressure varies among groups of people. In general, limit sodium to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day or less.
Consider these tips:
- Choose low-sodium alternatives.
- Eat fewer processed foods.
- Don’t add salt. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
Eat a healthy diet
Eat a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products and skimps on saturated fat and
cholesterol. This eating plan is known as the Dietary Approaches to Stop
Hypertension (DASH) diet. Keep a food diary. Be a smart shopper. Read food labels and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you’re dining out.
Exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown
hypertension and can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels. The best types of exercise are walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also reduces blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program.
Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm Hg. But that protective effect is lost if you drink too much alcohol — generally more than one drink a day for women and for men older than age 65, or more than two a day for men age 65 and younger. Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points and reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.