Unfortunately, high blood pressure (also known as ‘hypertension’) remains one of the most problematic and persistent health conditions affecting people in many countries around the modern world. It can affect many of us as we get to middle age onwards and is primarily related to lifestyle habits. This is both good and bad news. It means you’re in control of how it proceeds, but also that changing course to kick bad habits may be a little uncomfortable. In any case, it’s better to act sooner rather than later to avoid ongoing issues related to high blood pressure. Here are a few simple lifestyle changes to consider today:
Improving your Diet
Most of us likely have gaps in our diet that could be improved to ensure we’re getting more of the essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need as well as less saturated fats. This isn’t to say we all suddenly need to become strict vegetarians, though eating more green vegetables and less red meat should be a top priority as, for many of us, these are core problem areas.
However, the biggest culprit of all when it comes to our diets is too much salt, which contributes directly to hypertension. Most Americans consume more than twice the recommended daily intake of salt through their diets every single day, and many other countries don’t fare much better. Fast food such as burgers and fried chicken are typically very high in salt. Consider cutting down on these and replacing them with an occasional vegetarian dish. If you like snacking, fruit also makes a healthy alternative to crisps and chocolate.
Just 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week can make a massive lifestyle difference – and it’s something most people can do with minimal effort. Regular exercise can be as simple as that; it doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon or become a gym buff. Should you get easily bored with exercising though, and don’t have a dog who loves walking, consider joining a local sports club or going for regular swim sessions with a friend. When you’re doing a fun activity, you’ll find yourself getting the physical and mental benefits of exercise without even realizing you’re doing it.
Getting Quality Sleep
A lot of people lead such busy lifestyles that they forget to prioritize good sleep. They always think it’s something they can ‘catch up on’ later, but it doesn’t exactly work like that. To function effectively long term, your body needs a quality consistent sleeping pattern. Without this, you’ll also be susceptible to increased hypertension over time. If you struggle to sleep, you can get advice from a medical professional, who may suggest taking melatonin, or getting more exercise as stated above – this can lead to better sleep as your body needs to recover physically.
Managing Stress and Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are the great unseen pressures on our physical and mental health. They’re also one of the biggest culprits in rising blood pressure levels, with chronic stress contributing to long term issues that will eventually require treatment. The good news is that getting more exercise can relieve stress, which in turn can help you sleep and relax better. Remember to reserve some ‘you’ time for activities that help you switch off from the pressures of life.
Doctor Visits and Medication
For many people, getting prescribed medication isn’t an ideal approach to high blood pressure. Our aim should be to avoid this step as much as possible with proactive lifestyle changes such as those outlined above. Regular contact with your doctor, though, is always recommended regardless of how high or low you consider your blood pressure to be. Using medical advice wisely, you could avoid more significant health concerns down the line. This is especially advised if you’re in an older and/or higher risk category.
Remember, being healthy doesn’t have to be boring! It isn’t too late to instil some of these positive lifestyle habits today and avoid having to deal with unnecessary issues related to hypertension.