Hypertension, or high blood pressure, has been called the silent killer. It certainly is a serious condition many people have and certainly many unknowingly. Although there are drug based treatments available, the foundation of every program should be lifestyle changes and these changes are healthy for everyone regardless of whether they have hypertension or not. Here they are:
1) Exercise. Regular exercise is good for you and as little as 30 minutes of moderate exercise can lower your Systolic blood pressure by 4 to 9 points. This could be a brisk walk, a game of basketball, time on a treadmill or exercise bike or any of a number of things. There is bound to be some activity you enjoy that is easy for you to do too.
2) Diet, is unfortunately important. I wish I could eat and drink everything I want, and I can, but not always. Some moderation is the key. The Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, also known as the DASH Diet, is often recommended. Although we can’t discuss all the details here, it involves lowering your sodium intake to less than 2400mg a day, and even less is better. It also involves lowering the amount of animal products you eat as well as highly processed foods. This diet can drop your systolic pressure up to 22 points.
3) Weight, is often connected to the two above, diet and exercise. This is one of the toughest yet most important for most people, and dropping 20+lbs can easily drop your systolic pressure between 5 to 20 points. I’m working on this one now.
4) Alcohol use. Limit yourself to two drinks a day. This really does make a difference as I can attest to. I ‘m a big wine drinker, but have cut way back on my doctors advice.
5) Stress. Too much stress in unhealthy, although some stress is normal and OK. I have a stressful life! There are a number of ways to moderate stress, including possible meditation and other relaxation techniques. I have some very relaxing hobbies for example, and also find that merely trying to be 5 minutes early instead of fighting to be barely on time helps reduce my stress levels a lot.
Unfortunately I have hypertension like millions of other people. It’s nice to know that lifestyle changes, adding exercise, eating right, controlling your weight, limiting alcohol use, and moderating stress can help a lot. It’s even better if you do these!
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