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Take the Stairs
We all know the huge benefits of regular exercise, but for people who suffer from high blood pressure, introducing a daily exercise regimen can be especially challenging.
The good news is that the benefits from even a small amount of exercise can have significant effects on lowering blood pressure. Even 10 minutes of light physical activity can help decrease excess pressure and/or amplify the effect of blood pressure medications. If you can push that activity to 30 minutes every day, then you can potentially lower your pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters of mercury! So, when you’re facing that elevator or debating pulling into the closest parking spot, think again! Those small minutes of exercise may add up to a healthier you.
Pick Up a Banana
The importance of a healthy diet cannot be underestimated. If there was ever a reason to eat better, controlling your blood pressure is it. In addition to eating many dark leafy greens and foods low in saturated fat, adding a hearty portion of potassium to your diet can be your savory ticket to low blood pressure.
Potassium works to lower the pressure by balancing out the harmful effects of salt – the excess of which is one of the leading causes of this dangerous condition. Foods high in potassium include potatoes, squash, avocados, fish, yogurt, and – you guessed it – bananas.
Add some potassium to your diet for a potent hit against high blood pressure. Extra points for lugging a bag of bananas or potatoes up the stairs.
Swap out the Regular Joe for Half-Caff
If you think that last cup of coffee at 10 am doesn’t hurt you, think again. Caffeine can cause a 4 mmhg jump in your blood pressure that lasts right up to bedtime.
The good news is that half-caff or decaf options taste pretty good these days. Everywhere from grocery brands, like Folgers, to higher-end vendors, like Starbucks, offer tasty, less-caffeinated versions of their most popular drinks. Swap out your regular cup of Joe for the half-caff version and you still get all the great flavor without aggravating your body.
Have that Nightcap
Studies have shown that a small amount of alcohol, defined as 1 drink a day for women and 1.5 for men, can actually decrease your blood pressure. One study, at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, even found that the adding one drink to your day, even if that’s more than you’re accustomed to, can have the same health benefit.
Of course, moderation is the key. Drinking 5 drinks in one sitting isn’t going to make it 5 times more effective. Likewise, skipping the drinks throughout the week and having them all at once on Saturday night can be extremely detrimental to your health. But, a single drink, defined as one 12 ounce beer, a 5 ounce glass of wine, or 1.5 ounces of spirit, can be an easy, natural way to lower your blood pressure. Add to that that this same regimen can help control the risk of heart disease and it’s a no brainer. Have that night-cap.
Your body under the effects of stress is a tremendous thing: the central nervous system floods the body with adrenaline and other hormones; the heart rate spikes, muscles clench, breathing quickens, and, of course, blood pressure rises.
If you are going through this every day in response to work, family, and other of life’s common stressors, you are quickly wearing out your body and exacerbating your blood pressure condition. Taking time for yourself to slow down, unwind, and relax might be just the thing that tips your blood pressure in the right direction.
So, after that half-caff drinking day at the office and the adventure of lugging bananas up the stairs, relax with that nightcap and call yourself an au-naturel champ the Blood-Pressure Lowering game.
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