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High blood pressure is a common (and serious) medical condition that affects roughly one in three adults in the United States. Left unchecked, chronic high blood pressure (hypertension) can cause heart damage, stroke and heart attack. If you’ve been diagnosed with high blood pressure, it’s important to work closely with your doctor to find a way to safely manage your condition.
Lowering blood pressure isn’t just about taking a pill. It’s about making changes to your lifestyle and improving your physical, mental and spiritual health to keep your heart healthy and strong. Your doctor may discuss these natural ways to help you manage hypertension.
Exercise is a proven way to help you lower your blood pressure. Regular physical activity strengthens your heart, helping it work more efficiently. This efficiency eases the strain on your arteries and lowers your blood pressure.
Try getting at least 150 minutes of exercise every week. Break it up into smaller manageable chunks. Even a 10-minute power walk around the block will do your body good.
Weight loss can seem overwhelming, but even a small loss is a big gain for your heart. Losing just five to 10 pounds can help lower your blood pressure.
Talk to your doctor about a weight-loss goal that’s right for you. Then, set yourself up for success:
- Ask a friend to join you
- Remove unhealthy food and drinks from the house
- Sign up for a weekly exercise class
- Tell a friend or family member about your plans
- Track your progress in a journal
- Write down your goal weight
Diet plays a big role in raising or lowering blood pressure. Make more room in your diet for delicious, nutritious food and snacks and cut back on unhealthy choices.
- Dark chocolate
- High-protein foods (fish, eggs, poultry, nuts, cheese)
- Foods rich in potassium (low-fat dairy, fish, fruits, vegetables)
- Fresh fruits and veggies (try new ones!)
Cut back on:
- Processed foods (deli meat, canned soup, pizza, chips)
- Refined carbohydrates (simple or processed carbs like high-fructose corn syrup, table sugar, white flour)
Get a Handle on Stress
Stress is a major driver of high blood pressure. It puts our bodies in “fight or flight mode,” which raises our heart rates and constricts blood vessels, directly causing high blood pressure. Finding natural ways to lower your stress level will keep your heart healthy.
Physical activity helps release endorphins (feel-good chemicals) that can help you relax and destress.
Just Say No
Turning down extra projects and work, as well as steering clear of making unnecessary commitments, helps protect you from harmful stressors.
Listen to Calming Music
Music has been shown to help relax our bodies and connect us to fond moments or memories.
Practice Deep Breathing
Make yourself present in the moment by focusing on your breathing. It can help relax your body, mind and spirit — especially during stressful moments.
Talk to Someone
Reach out to a friend or a mental health professional to share your stress and talk through any problems you may be facing.
Spending a few minutes every day capturing your favorite moments — or writing down what you’re grateful for — keeps you focused on the positive and can go a long way in helping you feel whole. Journaling can also help you release the things that are causing you stress.
Get a Good Night’s Sleep
A solid seven to nine hours of shut-eye every night can help lower your blood pressure. When you’re asleep, your blood pressure naturally dips as you relax and recharge in dreamland. Make sure you’re getting a good night’s sleep to protect your heart health.
Listen to Your Doctor
There are many ways to try lowering your blood pressure naturally. But none of these approaches work when you don’t follow doctor’s orders. Work closely with your primary care provider to develop a plan that’s right for you.