Reducing blood pressure, why it’s important
High blood pressure is extremely prevalent among both men and women globally. High blood pressure affects one in three people in the US, and over 1 billion people worldwide. Blood pressure refers to the force of circulating blood on the artery walls, and those with high blood pressure can be faced with numerous health problems, along with its negative impacts on heart health. Potentially related health problems include heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
As such, monitoring your blood pressure is vitally important, and for those with high levels, focusing on reduction should be a priority. There are a number of things that can be done to reduce blood pressure and increase heart health (without the need for medication). In this article, we will give you the tips and lifestyle changes you should make to reduce and maintain lower blood pressure levels. If you find it helpful, we have plenty of other informative articles on our Wellness Section.
Use Exercise to Lower Blood Pressure
Frequent exercise leads to increased heart health, along with a stronger heart that can pump blood more efficiently. This lowers the pressure of blood on arteries. An expensive gym membership is not needed to reap the benefits of exercise, and one can lower blood pressure outside the gym environment. Exerting stress on the body by making it harder to breathe and lightly increasing the heart rate will be enough to reduce blood pressure. Cardiovascular exercise is a great option for those trying to reduce blood pressure. Brisk walking, jogging, swimming and biking all fall into this category.
For those looking to do moderate exercise to lower blood pressure, a thirty minute walk five days a week is a great place to start if you have no regular exercise routine currently. Hard exercise such as jogging for twenty minutes three to four days a week will have similarly beneficial effects on blood pressure.
Keep Stress to a Minimum
Stress plays a huge role in increasing blood pressure. When stressed, hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline are released leading to a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels, which increases blood pressure. Continuous or chronic stress can negatively affect general well being by reducing heart health, along with damaging blood vessels and kidneys.
Having unhealthy stress habits increases blood pressure, which leads to greater risk of heart disease, heart attacks, strokes, and other heart related complications. Stress can also lead to various mental difficulties which can have further negative effects on the bodies general well being. Although not directly affecting blood pressure, depression, anxiety and loneliness all have a negative effect on heart health by contributing to chronically elevated stress hormones .
While having three drinks in one sitting only sparks temporary increases in blood pressure, frequent binge drinking can have long term negative effects. For those seeking to lower blood pressure levels, a reduction in alcohol consumption should be seriously considered. Heavy drinkers should lower their consumption slowly as suddenly stopping alcohol consumption can actually raise blood pressure temporarily. Ideally one would slowly reduce their alcohol consumption over a one to two week period to avoid any potential spikes in blood pressure.
Eat Dark Chocolate Daily
Although it may seem counter intuitive, eating dark chocolate is a good option for those seeking to lower blood pressure levels. This is due to the presence of flavonoids, heart-healthy compounds that cause dilation of the vessels.
Portion control is important, as over consumption of dark chocolate can cause one to pass their daily calorie intake. This can lead to weight gain which will instead increase blood pressure. One small square of dark chocolate a day will be enough to receive the heart-healthy benefits of dark chocolate. Dark chocolate with fifty to seventy percent cocoa has the biggest impact,while sweetened dark chocolate should be avoided, as this will increase refined carbs and added sugar intake.
Start Practicing Meditation and Deep Breathing
Although this can be considered by some to be stress related, meditation can have effects on blood pressure beyond simply reducing stress. Mediation activates the parasympathetic nervous system. This system becomes engaged when the body is relaxed, and while activated the heart rate is slowed and blood pressure lowered.
Breathing exercises and deep breathing techniques have similarly beneficial effects on reducing blood pressure, and also activate the parasympathetic nervous system. For those looking to use deep breathing techniques to lower blood pressure, a good start is to inhale through the nose for 4 seconds, and then exhale through the mouth for four seconds. Ten to fifteen minutes of this daily will help reduce blood pressure levels.
Keeping Blood Pressure Low Moving Forward
With so many medications on the market, trying to reduce blood pressure naturally can seem like a hard, grueling task. But it doesn’t have to be by following the steps outlined above. Small changes in your lifestyle can go a long way to increasing your general well being, heart health, while also reducing blood pressure.
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