How to Improve or Maintain Your Blood Pressure Numbers
So our Guinness World RecordTM attempt has come and gone, but if you’re one of the 5,698 people who got a blood pressure reading on campus, do you know how to improve or maintain those blood pressure numbers? Here are some tricks on how to manage your blood pressure, no matter where you fall on the scale:
Get Smart About Food
The American Heart Association suggests people with high blood pressure follow the “Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet” (DASH).
The DASH diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole-grain and high-fiber, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, beans, skinless poultry, lean meats and fish high in omega three fatty acids. Someone with high blood pressure should avoid salts, added sugars, saturated and trans-fats in their diet.
The American Heart Association recommends consuming less than 1,500 mg of salt a day. Many processed and pre-packaged foods, even some natural foods such as olives, are high in sodium. There are often low sodium alternatives to many of your favorite foods. A simple change – try using other spices instead of salt to add flavor to food – can make a big difference.
|DASH – (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)|
|Food Group||Daily Serving(Except as noted)||Serving Sizes|
|Grains and Grain Products||7-8||1 slice bread, 1 cup ready-to-eat cereal, *1/2 cup cooked rice, pasta, or cereal|
|Vegetables||4-5||1 cup raw leafy vegetable, 1/2 cup cooked vegetable, 6 ounces vegetable juice|
|Fruits||4-5||1 medium fruit, 1/4 cup dried fruit, 1/2 cup fresh, frozen, or canned fruit, 6 ounces fruit juice|
|Low fat and Fat-Free Dairy Foods||2-3||8 ounces milk, 1 cup yogurt, 1 1/2 ounces cheese|
|Lean meats, poultry and Fish||2-3||3 ounces cooked lean meat, skinless poultry, or fish|
|Nuts, Seeds and Dry Beans||2 or fewer||1/3 cup or 1 1/2 ounces nuts, 1 tablespoon or 1/2 ounce seeds, 1/2 cup cooked dry beans|
|Fats and Oils **||2-3||1 teaspoon soft margarine, 1 tablespoon low fat mayonnaise, 2 tablespoons light salad dressing, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil|
|Sweets||5 per week||1 tablespoon sugar, 1 tablespoon jelly or jam, 1/2 ounce jelly beans, 8 ounces lemonade|
* Serving sizes vary between 1/2 cup and 1 1/4 cups. Check the product’s nutrition label. ** Fat content changes serving counts for fats and oils: For example, 1 tablespoon of regular salad dressing equals 1 serving, 1 tablespoon of low-fat salad dressing equals 1/2 serving, and 1 tablespoon of fat free salad dressing equals 0 servings.
Get Up & Move
There are several benefits to getting a daily dose of physical exercise. For starters, physical activity is proven to help in regulating stress, weight and heart health. Physical activity can range in difficulty and vigor depending on your individual ability. At the very least, try to take a brisk 30-minute walk five times a week if you can. Too busy? No excuses! A 30-minute walk can be broken into three 10-minute walks throughout the day.
Don’t Stress It
Stress is not a proven factor when it comes to high blood pressure management, but stress does have an effect on your overall health.
Stress management can come down to four steps:
- First, change your expectations by setting realistic time frames for achieving goals and learning to say ‘no.’ Become familiar with what is too much for you, and don’t push yourself too hard, too fast.
- Second, recognize that not everything is in your control. Plan for events that you can control and prepare for factors outside your control.
- Third, monitor your mood by finding something that you enjoy and brings you peace. Carve out 15 to 20 minutes a day to just enjoy the quiet and focus on your breathing.
- Fourth, be grateful for what you have and don’t stress about what you don’t. This is as simple as focusing on the positive rather than the negative, and showing gratitude to those around you.
Know Your Temperature Tolerance
For many, time in a spa or sauna is the ideal form of relaxation, but for someone with high blood pressure it can actually be a risky pastime. The heat from a hot tub or sauna causes the blood vessels to open, as is the case with normal physical activity. Those who are advised to avoid moderate activity should also be cautious of using hot tubs and saunas.