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7 tips to reduce your blood pressure

If you currently have been diagnosed with high blood pressure, or even if you have had it for a while and are taking medication, I want to give you some information that will help you reduce it and even come off the medication.

Although this is information may not be suitable for everyone, before you take any kind of action please consult your Dr.

It’s important to know what blood pressure actually is, after all, knowledge is power and the more you know the more you can do about it.

A lot of my clients have been diagnosed with high BP and when they come to see me they have no idea what it is and they struggle to make healthy lifestyle changes.

What is blood pressure?

Your blood pumps oxygen and nutrients around your body and the force that it pumps causes pressure on the blood vessels and this is blood pressure.

It’s measured in two metrics, The top number is systolic and the second is Diastolic. A healthy BP reading is about 120/80.

The systolic number is the highest amount of pressure the heart produces when it beats, and the diastolic is the lowest amount of pressure after it relaxes. Hence the two numbers.

Why is it so dangerous?

Having high blood pressure is dangerous because the pressure on the arteries put a huge amount of stress on them. Imagine a hosepipe bursting at the seams because there is too much pressure pushing the water through. Eventually, something will give way and it’s usually the joins that start to leak.

So the problem starts when you have high blood pressure for long periods of time, and most people don’t even know until something happens. It’s referred to as being a ‘silent killer’. That’s why it’s so important to lead a healthy and active lifestyle.

People with Hypertension are at risk from serious health conditions such as:

Haemorrhagic Strokes – When an artery in the brain ruptures after being weakened by high blood pressure.

Kidney Failure – The kidneys are full of arteries and prolonged stress from high BP can cause them to weaken.

Enlarged Heart – This is because the heart is a muscle and like any muscle, if you cause it to work hard, it will get bigger and stiffen, this inhibits the hearts capacity to pump blood and increases the risk of a heart attack.

Is it permanent?

You can absolutely reduce your blood pressure, many of my clients have,  but if you have had any health conditions that have arisen as a result then that may be a different story. Even so, reducing it will have positive health benefits.

7 Tips you can do right now to Lower Your Blood Pressure

1. Switch out coffee and caffeine for green tea – The reason for this is that caffeine causes sharp spikes in blood pressure. So if it’s high it will go higher. Green Tea has a huge range of health benefits so it’s a win-win.

2. Start exercising – This doesn’t have to be super strenuous but studies show that regular exercise can reduce BP for up to 22 hours after the session. PEH – Post Exercise Hypotension. If you are new to exercise than getting active on a daily basis should be a priority. A 30-minute walk every day will start to make a positive difference.

Weight Training is also beneficial and I recommend a full body workout twice a week. This workout should concentrate on working the major muscles of the body. Legs, back, chest core. This circuit will be a good start:

  • Body Weight Squats
  • Lateral Pull Down
  • Seated Cable Row
  • Chest Press
  • Shoulder Press
  • Plank

You should concentrate on doing about 12 reps of each and avoid static holds. Breathing throughout this exercise must be a priority.

Intensity levels must be in the moderate ranges of about 50 – 60 % of your max heart rate. In other words when you workout it shouldn’t feel more than a 6 /10 in difficulty.

3. Drink more waterWell-hydrated veins and arteries will ease the heart’s workload.

4. Avoid Salt – Salt or sodium because when we consume too much salt, our blood gets salty. Our bodies try to dilute this by drawing in more water, this causes the blood volume, which causes the heart to work harder which increases your blood pressure. It’s advised to eat about 2300 mg a day or less. A good way to track this is using a food tracker such as myfitnesspal. But by eating less processed foods, and more fruit and veggies you will be on the right track.

5. Eat a variety of vegetables and fruits and foods high in potassium which helps balance out the negative effects of salt.

  • Avocado
  • Spinach
  • Sweet potato
  • Wild-caught salmon
  • Dried apricots
  • Pomegranate
  • Coconut water
  • White beans
  • Banana

6. Eat lean proteinA recent study published in Circulation reported that increasing protein intake may actually help lower systolic blood pressure by more than 2 mmHg. So Chicken breast, fish and lean cuts of unprocessed meat will be a staple.

How to do it, simply use your hand as a guide. For every meal, a palm-sized amount of protein should do the trick.

7. Lose weight – Doing all of the things above will help you lose weight, after all cleaning up your diet and adding daily exercise will do so much for your weight loss.

8. Bonus – De-stressing is a huge factor and it can be difficult to do. But try, Exercise is a great de-stressor, but more importantly, do things you enjoy, spend time with people you enjoy spending time with, and don’t worry about things you have no control over.

In my experience blood pressure can 99% of the time be controlled with lifestyle changes and it’s a lot better than taking medication to do it.

But don’t try and tackle everything in one go, just pick one thing and work at it, make it a habit and then tackle something else.

 

Gavyn Berntsen

Start Afresh Personal Training and Co-creator of the Growing Younger Programme