May is National High Blood Pressure Education Month, and it’s an important one to pay attention to, because roughly 70 million American adults have high blood pressure – that’s one in every three adults! And what’s more troubling is that only about half of those people have their high blood pressure issue under control, which is not a good thing, because having high blood pressure puts you at risk for serious issues like heart disease and stroke, which are the leading causes of death in the U.S. But, there’s good news! There are easy ways to lower your blood pressure, without medication (although you should take that too if your blood pressure is at dangerously high levels and your doctor advises you to), and I’ve got ya covered, courtesy of the Mayo Clinic.
- Lose weight. Blood pressure typically increases as weight increases, so if you’re overweight, it will be better for your overall health to start that diet. Now. Also, if most of that extra weight your carrying is around your waist, you could be at an even greater risk of high blood pressure. Losing just 10 pound can help reduce your blood pressure.
- Exercise regularly. You should be doing this anyway, but at least 30 minutes of physical activity a day can lower your blood pressure. Just another reason to renew your gym membership!
- Eat healthy foods (most of the time). A diet that includes plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat dairy products, helps lower your blood pressure. What doesn’t help lower it? Saturated fats, cholesterol and sodium. Buh bye, butter! So long, bagel!
- Limit alcohol consumption. If you’re someone who likes to drink every now and then, no one is telling you to give it up. In fact, in small amounts, alcohol can potentially lower your blood pressure. But, if you drink too much alcohol – more than one drink a day for women and for men older than 65, or more than two drinks a day for men 65 and younger – you can actually raise your blood pressure by several points. And, if you take blood pressure medication, alcohol can reduce its effectiveness.
- Quit smoking. You’re still smoking cigarettes? In 2016? Given all that we know about the harmful effects of tobacco? SMH. It’s time to quit! Each cigarette you smoke increase your blood pressure for many minutes after you’ve finished. By quitting, you’re helping your blood pressure return to normal. Bottom line, if you want to live longer, quit smoking. Now.
- Reduce your stress level. I know, easier said that done, but chronic stress is a big contributor to high blood pressure. If you’re someone who gets stressed out easily, come up with some ways to cope with that stress in a healthier way. Need some help? Check out these helpful tips on how to reduce stress from WebMD.