Yes, a healthy diet or following the DASH diet is important to help maintain normal blood pressure. But, what are other lifestyle changes we can make to lower blood pressure, not related to food? Small changes to everyday activities can be highly effective in decreasing blood pressure. Read below for ways we can help lower blood pressure and keep our heart healthy – not having to do with diet.
Participating in regular physical activity can help prevent hypertension and strengthen your heart. Find activities you love to do, get friends and family involved, and set goals to help you stay motivated. Keep in mind, you can be active throughout the entire day, your daily activity does not have to happen all at once. Sporadic movement throughout the day can also enhance concentration and creativity. Some ways to be more active during the work day could include taking the stairs in your building, parking further away in the parking lot, take a mid-day walk with coworkers, or even schedule a walking meeting. Remember, all activities count – gardening, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, playing with your kids, dancing to music, yoga, walking the dog, swimming, hiking…the options are endless!
Stress management is important for our overall health and to help manage blood pressure. When we are in a stressful situation, our bodies go into “fight or flight” mode and release stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol). Our heart beats faster and our blood vessels constrict, causing a temporary increase in blood pressure. Reduce stress during a busy day by taking a few minutes to take some deep breaths – you’ll be surprised how much this helps. Take time during your week to make plans with friends and family, practice gratitude by thinking about the positive things that happened during the week, and schedule activities that you enjoy doing – cooking, running, dancing, watching TV, etc. All of these things can help keep you mentally and physically healthy.
To wrap it all up – in addition to including a variety of healthy foods in your everyday diet, we can make simple, fun, and easy lifestyle changes to help naturally lower blood pressure. Include some form of your favorite physical activity most days, and make time in your day just for yourself to lower stress levels. What are your favorite ways to be physically active and reduce stress?