High blood pressure can sneak up on you and lead to other problems if left untreated. Fortunately, making a few lifestyle changes can help reduce your risk and keep your blood pressure within a healthy range. A good place to start is to make changes to your diet. The American Heart Association recommends eating less salt and sodium. Avoid cooking with salt; instead, use herbs or spices to add flavor to your meals. Adding more potassium to your diet can blunt the effects of sodium, which can help control your blood pressure. Bananas, avocados, fish and low-fat dairy products are excellent sources of potassium.
Regular exercise is another way to lower your risk. What’s more, staying active isn’t just good for managing high blood pressure. It helps you manage your weight, makes your heart stronger, and helps relieve stress. Try exercising for 150 minutes a week, which is approximately 20 minutes a day. You can try walking, light jogging, biking and swimming. Other activities that can help lower your risk include yoga and meditation. This can help you slow down, focus on the present, and enjoy the little things. It can also help control your breathing and stress levels.
Poor sleep and smoking are also linked to high blood pressure. If you’re a smoker, it’s time to put down your cigarettes and get help to quit for good. If you’re not getting enough sleep or you tend to toss and turn at night, your blood pressure may stay higher for longer. On the other hand, when you sleep well, and your body rests, your blood pressure goes down. If you’re a night owl or have issues falling or staying asleep, try making a few changes to your bedtime routine. Try relaxing before bed, avoiding daytime naps and making your bedroom dark and cozy. Talk to your doctor, physician assistant or nurse practitioner if you need help quitting smoking or have trouble sleeping at night.