In the UK, high blood pressure affects 32% of men and 29% of women, and our sedentary, junk food laden lifestyles are putting more of us at risk. The higher your blood pressure becomes, the greater your likelihood of having a stroke or a heart attack in the future.
The good news is there are simple lifestyle changes that can be made to reduce your blood pressure and in some cases completely prevent it.
Visiting your GP is the first step on the road to clearer arteries, but by following these steps you can ensure you are doing everything you can to stay in the healthy blood pressure zone:
The daily-recommended amount of physical activity for adults is at least 30 minutes a day, five times a week. Find an exercise you love so that you will stay motivated, and if the idea of going to a gym scares you, remember there are lots of other fitness activities to get stuck into, such as swimming, yoga, and home workout DVDs.
Start off by making small changes, building up to more intense levels of fitness and longer sessions. Simple changes such as taking the stairs instead of the lift, and walking to work instead of taking the tube will make a big difference.
Limit your salt, saturated fat and sugar intake
Refined, ‘junk’ foods such as biscuits, cakes, burgers and fatty takeaway meals are packed full of sugar, unhealthy fats and salt – common triggers of high blood pressure. Keep your salt intake to 6g a day and always check the ingredients of food. Try and get your five-a-day in fruits and vegetables, and choose leaner meat options. Cooking with fresh ingredients will ensure you know exactly what goes into your food.
Tackle your weight problem
If you are overweight you are more likely to get or suffer from high blood pressure. Losing weight to reach a healthy BMI is crucial to lowering blood pressure and there are various apps and professionals at hand to help you lose weight safely and effectively. Keep a food diary to monitor your food intake and make sure you burn more calories than you consume to shed the pounds.
Combating stress is essential for bringing your blood pressure levels down. Find out how to manage it properly and not let it affect your life by trying holistic therapies such as yoga, tai chi and hypnotherapy.
For more information on various therapies that can help you to tackle stress and lower high blood pressure, visit our therapy topics page.
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