5 Ways to Manage Blood Pressure Without Medicine
High blood pressure is common but dangerous—it increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. The good news is that there are lifestyle changes you can make to keep your blood pressure under control.
Talk with your healthcare provider about whether managing your blood pressure without medicine is possible for you. Even if you do need to take medicine, you can still benefit from the following strategies:
1. Optimize your diet. An eating plan that puts the focus on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains has been proven to reduce blood pressure. Fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and healthy oils are good choices, too. Look for nutrient-rich foods that have potassium, calcium, magnesium, and fiber.
To reduce your blood pressure, avoid or limit the following:
Keep your sodium consumption to less than 2,300 mg a day—or to less than 1,500 mg a day to reduce your blood pressure even more.
2. Add more activity to your day. Aim for at least 2.5 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise. This means your heart rate is up and you’re breaking a sweat, but you’re still able to talk. Some great options include:
Doing water aerobics
Playing doubles tennis
Pushing a lawn mower
Alternately, you can do 75 minutes a week of vigorous activity. It’s also a good idea to do muscle-strengthening exercises at least twice a week.
3. Prioritize high-quality sleep. While sleeping, your blood pressure goes down—so if you don’t sleep enough, it stays higher for longer. Aim for at least 7 hours of sleep a night. The more well rested you are, the better shape your heart and blood vessels will be in. Plus, good sleep will give you the energy to exercise more and make good decisions about your nutrition.
4. Limit your alcohol consumption. When you drink too much alcohol, it can raise your blood pressure. Men should have no more than 2 drinks a day, while women should stick to a limit of 1 drink a day.
5. Stop smoking—and stay away from secondhand smoke. Smoking negatively affects the body, including the heart and blood vessels. Nicotine, the addictive chemical in cigarettes, speeds up your heartbeat and causes your blood pressure to rise. While smokers are at the most risk, people who are exposed to secondhand smoke can also be harmed by it.