High blood pressure can put you at a higher risk for both heart attack and stroke. Fortunately, you can lower your risk for these conditions with easy, stress-free techniques to improve your blood pressure — and you don’t even have to hit the gym for hours or switch to a strict diet. Here’s how:
Add More Movement to Your Day
The American Heart Association recommends every adult participate in 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week for better cardiovascular health. Moderate exercise, like walking or swimming, means getting your heart rate up high enough that you can talk, but not sing while exercising.
And if finding the time in your day to exercise is a challenge (it is for most of us), it may be a relief to know that you don’t have to do the 150 minutes all at once; you can break it up into small chunks spread throughout your week.
Sneak in more movement by:
- Taking a walk on your lunch break
- Taking the stairs instead of an elevator
- Walking instead of driving, when possible
- Walking the dog instead of letting them out in the yard
Even these tiny bits of activity can add up to your 150 minutes of physical activity each week if you keep at it.
Eat Less Salt
Sodium causes your body to hold onto extra fluid, which increases your blood pressure. By eating less salt, you can maintain the right balance of fluid in your body for a healthy blood pressure.
Some techniques to reduce salt intake include:
- Avoiding highly processed foods
- Buying reduced-sodium products
- Reducing the salt in your recipes
- Replacing salt with herbs and spices
- Rinsing canned foods that are high in sodium.
Your goal should be to take in less than 2400 mg of salt each day.
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have many benefits for your heart health. Many of them, like bananas avocados and leafy greens, contain potassium. Potassium helps relax blood vessels and also counteracts the effects of salt.
It can be easy to add more fruits and vegetables to your day. You can:
- Add vegetables to soups and pastas
- Eat a serving as an afternoon snack
- Enjoy salad before lunch or dinner
- Have a vegetable side dish with dinner
- Have a fruit with your breakfast
Add one new serving to your day at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed by changes to your diet.
While sleep doesn’t seem like a top-of-mind solution for lowering your blood pressure, it’s actually a very important way for your body to refresh itself. People who are sleep-deprived have a higher risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes — all of which affect your heart health.
See Your Physician
Your primary care physician can help you monitor your blood pressure and identify which evidence-based strategies for improving heart health are right for you. They can offer guidance on your diet, exercise routine, weight loss goals and sleep quality — as well as connect you with valuable programs like smoking cessation classes — all in an effort to help lower your blood pressure.
A heart care specialist can also work with you to manage your heart health and conditions. Learn more about the care they provide and how it benefits your whole health.