Geez, you go see your doctor for a routine checkup and BLAM, you find out you have high blood pressure. So the doctor tells you just diet and exercise, easy peasy right? It’s a bit vague, so let’s put together a plan to really help you get it under control.
High blood pressure is one of those things that gets progressively worse as we age, so it’s important to get it controlled early.
1.) Are you too fat?
Probably. We’re all a little too fat. Let’s figure that out right now…
Checkout out this BMI test to figure out where you stand. http://www.healthcentral.com/cholesterol/home-body-fat-test-2774-143.html
Those BMI calculators, however, have been proven to not always be accurate and a better way to measure is simply to use Skin Calipers. These are more accurate than the general BMI calculators.
Anyway, without the above, generally, you already know if you’re fat or not, it’s not a secret. Most of us can lose a few pounds. If you want evidence, then use the above guidelines and tools to track your progress.
This brings us to #2.
Even if you’re not fat, your diet can still have an impact on your blood pressure, so making some significant changes here can really make a difference.
There are a few things you want to fix here:
(You’re never supposed to make lists within lists, ssshhh don’t tell anyone)
- Decrease Sodium
- Decrease Red Meats
- Increase Fruits and Vegetables (especially superfoods)
- Increase Fiber
- Increase Potassium
- Increase Magnesium
There’s nothing new here, you already knew all this. However, creating an actionable diet is considerably more difficult.
The folks at Pritikin Diet give you a solid meal plan to take care of all those needs. Be warned, it’s an intense regimen and only for the most motivated.
If you can’t handle such a big change, lets try and pick at least the low hanging fruit (now pun intended). Try and at least eat 2 bananas a day. Studies have shown it can decrease your systolic pressure by 10%. This is an easy win for sure.
Learning to eat healthy takes discipline and dedication. If you want to feel your best and achieve your goals these are the kinds of life changes that you need to start making.
Exercise is another thing that requires intense discipline, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. There is a vast different in being sedentary and getting even the most minimal amounts of exercise.
For example just getting out and getting some sunshine and walking for 10 minutes a day can make a difference of 4-9 points. That’s some serious ROI for just 10 minute
The combination of sunshine (alters nitric oxide in the blood) and some brisk exercise is a one-two punch for blood pressure control. If we’re discussing bang for buck, this should be tops on your list of things to do.
Just get your heart going, even just for a short duration. Flex those blood vessels and arteries, you want to keep them as pliable as you can.
4.) Meditate (breathe)
I know a lot of people feel meditation is for hippies. But it really has some good science behind it. One specifically is that telomerase gene expression increases after just 20 minutes a day. This is an exciting breakthrough because it’s the key to fighting aging.
Here is a long list of all the scientifically proven benefits. It’s extensive. http://liveanddare.com/benefits-of-meditation/
If you can allocate 20 minutes a day to sitting in a quiet place and reflecting, it will do wonders for your health. This is also a low effort huge win in the battle to keep mind and body well.
The benefits of meditation are great and the only real hard part is making time for it. Honestly, this is one of the lowest effort things that you can do and get you such big gains. Not only for your blood pressure, but so many aspects of your well-being.
5.) Give up at least some of your vices and find new ones.
Smoking and Drinking are the two biggest contributors to hypertension. Caffeine is also a commonly mentioned culprit.
Smoking is the absolute worst, let’s get that out of the way right now. Quitting that alone will have a huge impact on your numbers.
Easy to say and hard to do. There is a lot of debate as to whether which is the most successful way to quit. Currently, until studies on e-cigarettes are completed, it appears that going ‘cold turkey’ has the highest success rates for both the short and long term. This includes pharmaceuticals, patches and .gradual cessation. Of all the advice given here, this is EASILY the most important thing you can do for your general health
Drinking is the next thing you should take a look at, how can you reduce it and still not be a weirdo at social gatherings? Nothing brings the atmosphere down when someone scolds you for not drinking and you start bringing up health ailments. Geeeez…. Buzz kill.
Never fear! Studies show that you can still have a drink or two, it’s just that moderation is the key. Limit yourself to a single drink or two a day and you’ll be sitting pretty.
Caffeine is a quite a tricky one, who doesn’t love a boost in the mornings to get you going at work? Without caffeine, I’d never be able to finish any of these articles.
Caffeine in the short term causes a spike in blood pressure, which is why it’s often listed as a culprit. Fortunately, it appears that in the long term, both moderate coffee and tea (better) consumption has a lasting benefit to blood pressure. The Joint National Committee on Hypertension has stated that there is no evidence linking coffee or tea to high blood pressure. Yay!!
It doesn’t have to be like the biggest loser where you make a bunch of efforts to reduce your hypertension and then you have wait 3 months until the big stressful ‘weigh in’. Get a blood pressure monitor at home and get instant feedback. Track your numbers over time and see look for trends related to your lifestyles choices. Are the improvements you’ve been making having an effect?
Be patient, it takes time for your numbers to reflect your efforts, you didn’t become hypertensive overnight, and it’s going to take more than a week of good behavior to get things on track. Remember these are lifestyle changes, they should become mostly permanent fixtures in your new self.
Get a blood pressure monitor, readings fluctuate a lot based on a variety of factors, so it’s best if you can check various times of the day, to ensure that you have a good feeling for what your true numbers are.
There are tons of available options for this, and many are quite reasonable. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get good data.
Having measurable data can really help encourage you to continue your battle. Seeing the evidence that your efforts are bearing fruit is great for keeping you motivated.
Get started today. Just Start.