17 Active Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure (hypertension) is called a “silent killer” for good reason. It usually has no symptoms but is a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke. And these diseases are among the leading causes of death in the United States.
About half of U.S. adults have high blood pressure.
Your blood pressure is measured in millimeters of mercury, abbreviated as mm Hg. There are two numbers involved in the estimate:
- Systolic blood pressure. The high number represents the force of pressure as your heart pushes blood through the arteries throughout your body.
- Diastolic blood pressure. The number below represents the pressure on your blood vessels during the beating, when your heart is full and relaxed.
Your blood pressure depends on how much your heart pumps, and how much resistance there is to blood flow in your arteries. When your arteries become narrower, your blood pressure rises.
Blood pressure below 120/80 mm Hg is considered normal. A blood pressure of 130/80 mm Hg or higher is considered high.
If your numbers are above normal but below 130/80 mm Hg, you fall into the category of high blood pressure. This means that you are at risk of developing high blood pressure.
The good news about high blood pressure is that you can make changes to significantly reduce your numbers and reduce your risk – without the need for medication.
Here are 17 effective ways to lower your blood pressure.
1. Increase activity and get more exercise
A meta-analysis of 65 studies suggests that aerobic exercise and resistance can significantly lower blood pressure, especially in men.
In a 2013 study, older adults who participated in aerobic exercise training reduced their blood pressure by an average of 3.9 percent systolic and 4.5 percent diastolic. These effects are as good as any other blood pressure medication.
As you constantly increase your heart rate and respiration rate, over time your heart becomes stronger and pumps with less effort. This puts less pressure on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure.
How much work should you do?
A 2019 report by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association recommends moderate to vigorous exercise for 40 minutes, three to four times a week.
If getting 40 minutes at a time is a challenge, there may be some benefits when the time is divided into three or four parts for 10 to 15 minutes throughout the day.
The American College of Sports Medicine makes similar recommendations.
But you do not need to run a marathon. Increasing your workload can be as simple as:
- using the stairs
- to drive instead of driving
- doing household chores
- I will ride a bike
- playing a team game
Just do it regularly and work at least half an hour a day for intermediate work.
One example of intermediate work that can have far-reaching effects is tai chi. A 2017 review of the effects of tai chi and high blood pressure showed a total dose of 15.6 mm Hg decreased systolic blood pressure and 10.7 mm Hg decreased diastolic blood pressure compared to total inactivity.
A 2014 review of exercise and lowering blood pressure found that many combination combinations of exercise can lower blood pressure.
These tests include:
- aerobic exercise
- resistance training
- top-level training
- short periods of exercise throughout the day
- walking 10,000 steps a day
Further research continues to suggest that there are still benefits to even a small amount of exercise, especially for older people.
2. Lose weight if you are overweight
If you are overweight, losing 5 to 10 pounds [5 to 10 kg] can lower your blood pressure. Also, it will reduce the risk of other possible medical complications.
A review of one study reports that weight-loss diets reduce blood pressure by a diastolic rate of 3.2 mm Hg and 4.5 mm Hg systolic.
3. Reduce sugar and refined carbohydrates
Numerous studies show that limiting sugar and refined carbohydrates can help you lose weight and lower your blood pressure.
Sugar, especially fructose, can raise your blood pressure beyond salt, according to a 2014 review. In tests lasting at least 8 weeks, the blood sugar levels increased by 5.6 mm Hg diastolic and 6.9 mm Hg systolic.
A 2020 study comparing various popular diets found that in overweight or obese people, low-carb and low-fat diets lowered diastolic blood pressure by about 5 mm Hg and systolic blood pressure by 3 mm Hg after 6 months.
Another benefit of a low-carb, low-sugar diet is that you feel full longer because you eat more protein and fat.
The best diet for high blood pressure
4. Eat more potassium and less sodium
Increasing your potassium intake and lowering salt can also lower your blood pressure.
Potassium wins twice: Reduces the effects of salt on your system and reduces tension in your blood vessels. However, a diet high in potassium may be dangerous for people with kidney disease, so talk to your doctor before increasing your potassium intake.
It is easy to consume too much potassium. Most foods are naturally high in potassium. Here are a few:
- low-fat foods, such as milk and yogurt
- fruits, such as bananas, apricots, avocados, and oranges
- vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, potatoes, tomatoes, vegetables, and spinach
Note that people react differently to salt. Some people do not shut down salt, which means that too much salt raises blood pressure. Some do not feel salty. They can eat more salt and excrete it in their urine without raising blood pressure.
The National Institutes of Health recommends reducing salt intake using the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet. The DASH diet emphasizes:
- low sodium diet
- fruits and vegetables
- low-fat milk
- whole grains
- a few sweets and red meat
5. Eat less processed foods
Most of the salt in your diet comes from processed foods and foods from restaurants, not your home salt shaker. Popular high-salt products include:
- deli meat
- soup in the set
- some lightly digested food
Foods labeled “low fat” tend to be high in salt and sugar to compensate for fat loss. Fats are what makes food taste good and make you feel full.
Reducing – or better yet, reducing – processed foods will help you eat less salt, less sugar, and fewer refined carbohydrates. All of this can lead to lower blood pressure.
Make it a practice to check nutritional labels. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the sodium content of 5 percent or less on the diet label is considered low, and 20 percent or more is considered high.
6. Stop smoking
It may be hard to do, but it is worth it: Quitting smoking is good for your health everywhere. Smoking causes a rapid but temporary increase in your blood pressure and an increase in your heart rate.
Over time, the chemicals in cigarettes can increase your blood pressure by damaging the walls of blood vessels, causing inflammation, and narrowing your arteries. Strong arteries cause high blood pressure.
Cigarette chemicals can damage your blood vessels even if you are close to secondhand smoke.
Studies have shown that nonsmokers who are unable to go to non-smoking restaurants, bars, and workplaces have a lower blood pressure than those who do not smoke in non-smoking areas that affect public areas.
7. Reduce excessive stress
We live in stressful times. Work and family demands, national and international politics – all contribute to stress. Finding ways to reduce your stress is important for your health and your blood pressure.
There are many ways to relieve stress effectively, so find what works for you. Practice deep breathing, take a trip, read a book, or watch a comedy.
Listening to daily music has been shown to reduce systolic blood pressure.
A 20-year study showed that regular sauna use reduced mortality from cardiovascular events.
And one small study in 2015 showed that acupuncture can reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
8. Try meditation or yoga
Meditation and meditation, including transcendental meditation, have long been used – and studied – as ways to reduce stress.
Yoga, which usually involves breathing control, posture, and meditation techniques, may also be effective in reducing stress and blood pressure.
A 2013 review of yoga and blood pressure found an average decrease in blood pressure of 3.62 mm Hg diastolic and 4.17 mm Hg systolic compared with those who did not exercise.
Yoga practices that include breathing control, posture, and meditation are almost twice as effective as yoga practices that do not involve all three aspects.
9. Eat dark chocolate
Yes, chocolate lovers: Dark chocolate has been shown to lower blood pressure.
But dark chocolate should be 60 to 70 percent cocoa. A review of a study of black chocolate has found that eating one to two squares of dark chocolate a day can help reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood pressure and inflammation.
The benefits are thought to be derived from the flavonoids present in chocolate with the added cocoa solids. Flavonoids help to enlarge or widen, your blood vessels.
10. Try these remedies
Herbal remedies have long been used in many lands to treat various ailments.
Some herbs have even been shown to lower blood pressure. However, further research is needed to determine the dosages and components found in the most effective remedies.
Always consult your doctor or pharmacist before taking prescription supplements. They may interfere with your prescription medication.
Here is an incomplete list of herbs and herbs used worldwide to lower blood pressure:
- black beans (Castanospermum australe)
- cat claw (Uncaria rhynchophylla)
- celery juice (Apium graveolens)
- Chinese hawthorn (Crataegus pinnatifida)
- large dodder (Cuscuta reflexa)
- Indian Plantago (white psyllium)
- sea pine bark (Pinus pinaster)
- River lily (Crinum glaucum)
- Roselle (Hibiscus sabdariffa)
- sesame oil (Sesamum indicum)
- tomato extract (Lycopersicon esculentum)
- tea (Camellia sinensis), especially green tea and oolong tea
- umbrella bark (Musanga cecropioides)
11. Make sure you sleep well and rest
Your blood pressure usually drops during sleep. If you do not get enough sleep, it can affect your blood pressure.
People with sleep disorders, especially those in their mid-teens, are at greater risk of developing high blood pressure.
For some people, getting a good night’s sleep is not easy. Here are some ways in which having a good night’s sleep can help you:
- Try setting a regular sleep schedule.
- Spend time resting before bed.
- Exercise during the day.
- Avoid sleeping during the day.
- Make your bedroom comfortable.
A 2010 national Sleep Heart Health Study found that regular sleep less than 7 hours a night and more than 9 hours a night was associated with higher blood pressure.
Sleeping less than 5 hours a night was associated with a higher risk of high blood pressure over a long time.
12. Eat garlic or take garlic extract ingredients
Fresh garlic or garlic extract are both widely used to lower blood pressure.
Meta-analyzes found that in people with high blood pressure, garlic ingredients lowered systolic blood pressure to about 5 mm Hg and lowered diastolic blood pressure to 2.5 mm Hg.
According to a 2009 clinical study, timely correction of garlic extract may have a greater impact on blood pressure than conventional garlic powder pills.
13. Eat a healthy diet high in protein
A long-term study completed in 2014 found that people who ate a lot of protein had a lower risk of developing high blood pressure. For those who ate an average of 100 grams of protein a day, there was a 40 percent lower risk of developing high blood pressure than those who ate a low-protein diet.
Those who also added regular fiber to their diet have seen a 60 percent reduction in risk.
However, a high protein diet may not be for everyone. Those with kidney disease may need to be careful. It is best to talk to your doctor.
It is very easy to eat 100 grams of protein daily on many types of food.
High protein foods include:
- fish, such as salmon or canned tuna in water
- chickens, like chicken breast
- beans and vegetables, such as kidney beans and lentils
- nuts or peanut butter, such as peanut butter
- cheese, like cheddar
The 3.5-ounce given salmon can contain 22 grams of protein, while the 3.5-ounce given chicken breast can contain up to 30 grams of protein.
In terms of vegetable options, half a cup of many types of beans contains 7 to 10 grams of protein. Two tablespoons of peanut butter can provide up to 8 grams.
14. Take these ingredients to lower BP
These ingredients are easily available and show promise of lowering blood pressure:
Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids
Adding omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids or fish oil to your diet can have many benefits.
A meta-analysis of fish oil and blood pressure found a decrease in moderate blood pressure in those with the high blood pressure of 4.5 mm Hg systolic and 3.0 mm Hg diastolic.
This complex protein found in milk can have a few health benefits in addition to reducing possible blood pressure.
Magnesium deficiency is associated with high blood pressure. Meta-analyzes found a slight decrease in blood pressure with the addition of magnesium.
Oral L-citrulline is a precursor of L-arginine to the body, a protein structure, which can lower blood pressure.
15. Drink less alcohol
Alcohol can raise your blood pressure, even if you are healthy.
It is important to drink in moderation. According to a 2006 study, alcohol can increase your blood pressure by 1 mm Hg per 10 grams of alcohol consumed. A standard drink contains 14 grams of alcohol.
What makes a typical drink? One 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits.
Moderate drinking comes in one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
The review found that although drinking more than 30 grams of alcohol may reduce blood pressure initially, after 13 hours or more, systolic blood pressure increased by 3.7 mm Hg, and diastolic blood pressure increased by 2.4 mm Hg.
16. Consider reducing caffeine
Caffeine raises your blood pressure, but the effect is temporary.
In a 2017 study, the systolic blood pressure of 18 participants increased 2 hours after drinking 32 ounces of caffeinated beverage or energy drink. Blood pressure then dropped dramatically in participants who drank caffeinated beverages.
Some people may be more sensitive to caffeine than others. If you are sensitive to caffeine, you may want to reduce your coffee consumption or try decaffeinated coffee.
Research on caffeine, including its health benefits, is in full swing. Deciding whether to reduce it depends on several factors.
Some recent studies have shown that the effect of caffeine on raising blood pressure is greater when your blood pressure is already high. The study, however, requested that more research be done on this subject.
17. Take prescription drugs
If your blood pressure is too high or too low after making these lifestyle changes, your doctor may prescribe medication.
They are effective and will improve your long-term outcome, especially if you have other risk factors. However, it may take some time to find the right combination of drugs.
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