1. Take check of your weight
Blood pressure generally increases as weight increases and people who carry additional weight, especially around the waist and stomach, can be at greater risk of hypertension. Use a BMI calculator (like this one from HealthHub) to calculate your healthy weight range for your age and height, then work to bring your weight into that range, or toward the lower end if you’re already in that range. Even a loss of five kilos has been shown to make a beneficial difference to blood pressure.
2. Exercise regularly
Aim for 150 minutes a week. If you’re feeling super unmotivated, time-poor, or have a health complication that stops you from doing vigorous exercise, even a brisk 30-minute walk will help. Consider leaving the car at home on Monday and going to work via foot… even if it’s just to the bus or train stop! Yoga has the added benefit of lowering stress levels (if done correctly!), so take a beginner’s class or download an app such as Yoga Studio to try it out in the comfort of your living room.
READ MORE: 19 Fun Fitness Workouts For People Who Hate To Exercise
3. Tap into meditation
Slow breathing and meditation practices are believed to decrease stress hormones in the body, which have been shown to elevate blood pressure. One of the best things about meditation as a practice is that a small amount each day is better than a bigger amount all at once, so aim for just 10 minutes a day. Even until you get the hang of it, the act of setting aside time to sit quietly, close your eyes and focus on your breathing for a little while is better than nothing at all.
READ MORE: Easy Ways To Beat Fatigue And Stress When You Feel Overwhelmed
4. Make small tweaks to your diet
The goal is to lower your intake of salt, saturated fat and cholesterol, and increase your intake of wholegrains, fruits and vegetables, along with potassium-rich foods. Here’s a quick guide:
Eat Less: Frozen meals, Pizza, Fatty and/or cured meats such as ham, bacon and sausages, White bread, Cream, Butter and margarine, Potato chips, Salted nuts, Soft drinks.
Eat More: Beans, Dark leafy greens, Fish, Bananas, Avocado, Potatoes and sweet potatoes, Squash, Tomatoes, Unsweetened orange juice, Kidney beans, Peas, Dried fruits such as prunes and raisins, Garlic (some studies have shown that people who eat lots of garlic-rich meals have lower blood pressure than those who don’t, as it’s believed to improve circulation, thin blood, and dissolve blood fats).
READ MORE: Reduce Blood Pressure Naturally With These Foods
5. But increase fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids thin the blood, easing its passage through the arteries. In a study published in Thrombosis Research, people with mild high blood pressure were given either the omega-3 fatty acids eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), or a placebo. After four months, those on the omega-3 fatty acid regimen had an average decrease in systolic pressure six points below that of the placebo group.
READ MORE: 9 Super Health Benefits of Omega-3
6. Lower your alcohol intake
While alcohol has a relaxing effect on the body (and generally on blood pressure) in small amounts, the HealthHub recommends limiting your alcohol intake to no more than one standard drink per day (which equates to about one 100ml glass of wine or a 330ml can of beer). Alcohol can also hinder the effectiveness of blood pressure medications, so check with your doctor as to how much alcohol is safe when on certain medications.