If, like nearly half of adults in the United States, you have high blood pressure, you’ve likely heard what you need to do — exercise more, lose weight, and eat healthier. While it takes only a few words to convey these recommendations, making these lifestyle changes is no small feat.
While we stand by this trifecta for promoting great heart health, board-certified cardiology specialist Dr. James Kim understands that making huge changes like this takes time — and they can be done one small step at a time.
So, if you’re dealing with hypertension, we want to provide you with five easy-to-implement tips that can get you firmly on the road to healthier blood pressure numbers.
What is your blood pressure?
So you better understand what you're striving for, let’s quickly review why blood pressure is so important to your cardiovascular health. When we take a blood pressure reading, we measure two things:
This number, the top number of a blood pressure reading, measures the pressure of the blood against your arterial walls during a heartbeat.
This lower number indicates the pressure of the blood in between heartbeats.
Any reading that measures more than 130/80 is considered to be high blood pressure. Over time, this added pressure against the walls of your arteries can weaken them and place you at far greater risk for some very serious conditions, including heart attack and stroke.
Simple steps to lower your blood pressure
If you have hypertension, we want you to get started on improving the numbers today and work toward those three goals of losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier. Try these five tips:
1. Get in more walking and climbing stairs
Think about the times you’ve driven around a parking lot looking for a spot close to the doors, or when you’ve taken an elevator or escalator.
To get some extra steps into your day, we suggest parking farther from the entrance, or down the street from your destination, so you can get a little exercise in. The same goes for taking the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator whenever you can.
2. Count your steps and flights of stairs
A great way to track these small additions to your exercise is to track your steps. Use your smartphone or outfit yourself with a wearable fitness tracker. First, figure out how many steps and flights of stairs you’re getting in and set realistic goals for increasing those.
Ideally, we’d like to see you reach 6,000 or more steps per day and as many flights as you can get in, but you can work up to this slowly.
3. Read labels for sodium
Salt and sodium in your diet can increase your blood pressure so you want to do what you can to lower your intake. You might be surprised about the sodium and salt content of some of the foods you eat regularly.
So, next time you go shopping, spend some time looking over those labels and swap out high-sodium foods for healthier alternatives that advertise less sodium.
4. Ease your stress
While exercise can go a long way toward easing stress, there are other techniques. Stress can raise blood pressure, so allot some time each day when you put down the phone, turn off the news, and sit quietly enjoying an activity in which you’re fully engaged and present.
You can even try some guided meditation or deep breathing exercises. Even if you practice this for just 15 minutes each day, you can hit the reset button on your stress levels.
5. Eat a healthy snack
You don’t have to overhaul your diet all at once. (Though, if you can, please do!) To get on the road to a healthier diet, choose one snack or side dish at a time and endeavor to make it healthy.
So, choose an apple instead of a cookie or some nuts (without salt) over chips. Making one simple exchange is a practice you can build on.
If you’d like some more tips for lowering your blood pressure, we’re happy to help customize a plan that meets your specific needs and goals. To get started, contact us at one of our offices in Chula Vista or National City, California.