Hypertension, or high blood pressure, affects one in five adults in Australia, as reported by the Australian Bureau of Statistics. High blood pressure over a long period can put you at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular illnesses, kidney diseases, or stroke. However, a few lifestyle changes can go a long way in keeping your blood pressure in check.
Here, we’ve detailed five proven, research-backed methods that will help you relax and manage your hypertension.
1. Watch your diet: We’re not fans of fad diets. However, making a habit of eating healthy food will do wonders when it comes to cardiovascular health and blood pressure. Scientists have shown that blood pressure increases as weight increases. This means that overweight individuals have a higher risk of hypertension.
- Cut down on sodium: Most adults consume salt without even realising it; in fact, Australians eat twice the recommended amount of salt. Salt constricts blood vessels, increasing blood pressure.
The National Health and Medical Research Council recommends that Australian adults eat no more than 2000mg salt a day. Ideally, a daily sodium intake of less than 1000g a day is optimal for health.
Monitor your sodium intake by cutting down on processed food and reading food labels.
- Increase potassium intake: Potassium is great for your heart. Not only does it regulate your heart rate, but it also combats the effects of sodium in the body by softening the tension around your blood vessels.
Eat potassium-rich fruit like bananas, apricots, avocados, tomatoes, and apricots every day. Most nuts, tuna, salmon, and beans also contain a good amount of potassium.
Managing your weight through a proper diet is the most sustainable way to care for your health. The ideal BMI for an adult is between 18.5 and 24.9. Here are two diet factors to watch out for:
2. Reduce caffeine intake: Caffeine is a stimulant, which means that it increases blood pressure and increases your heart rate. Since this spike happens suddenly, it is unsustainable in the long run. Cut down on caffeine or opt for decaf drinks. You can substitute coffee with tea if you find it difficult to quit caffeine cold turkey.
3. Pamper yourself: Chronic stress can cause your heart rate to increase suddenly. If left unchecked, it can cause serious health issues. Watching your mental health and indulging in self-care is a proven way to reduce stress.
Taking a spa break or a sauna is a wonderful way to de-stress. In fact, a sauna is a research-backed method to improve your cardiovascular health. The Sauna Company will help you install a DIY sauna in any setting, be it indoors or outdoors. These Finnish SAWO-approved saunas will help you relax and get some serious TLC.
Often, anxiety and stress stem from scary ‘What if’ scenarios in our heads. When this happens, take 10 deep breaths. Additionally, try reframing your mindset to focus on things you can control, instead of things you can’t. Ground yourself by focusing on five things around you.
4. Limit alcohol and quit smoking: While one or two glasses of alcohol every day may be good for your heart, research shows that too much alcohol can cause a sudden spike in blood pressure, which is not good. Additionally, alcohol (particularly, beer) has a lot of calories which can cause a gain in weight. Alcohol can also interfere with blood pressure medication.
If you must drink at all, limit yourself to one or two drinks a day.
Cigarettes contain nicotine, which, like caffeine, is a stimulant. This can spike BP levels to dangerously high levels for several minutes after a single puff, which can prove dangerous in the long run.
5. Exercise regularly: Physical activity is great for overall health, not just hypertension. Just 150 minutes (less than 3 hours) of moderate-intensity exercise can promote cardiovascular health. This will help you stay fit and active, and lower stress levels too.
Take your pick from walking, jogging, biking, skipping, dancing, or playing a sport. Don’t forget to stretch before and after your workout. This will stabilise your heart rate and regulate breathing too.
PS. Before trying out any new exercise routine, consult a healthcare professional!
A healthy lifestyle is all you need to manage your hypertension. With these tips and tricks (and medical advice), you’re certain to enjoy a stress-free, healthy life!