One of the biggest frustrations in life is when you work hard at something, believe you’re doing it right, and then you don’t get the results you’re looking for. And if you’re physically active and can’t get your blood pressure any lower, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Managing your blood pressure can feel like a full-time job, and really, it is. The decisions you make every day can keep your blood pressure the same, bring it up, or knock it down.
How Are You Getting Your Physical Activity?
If you’re already active, the first thing I’d urge you to do is look at how you’re getting that activity. If you spend an hour a day in the garden or going for a walk, that’s terrific—keep doing it, you’re going to benefit. But to increase the positive effects, you’ll want to intersperse some more activity during your day.
Getting up once per hour for at least five minutes can make a difference, and so can including more low-level activities. Things like walking to the store or to friends’ houses, or getting out for some extra walks throughout the day, even if only for a few minutes, can further improve the efficiency of your circulation. The more time you spend sedentary, the less reason your heart has to pump blood efficiently.
There are also some dietary factors that could be holding back the benefits of exercise. There’s no question that activity is great for your heart regardless of what you’re eating, but sticking to certain items can make it even better. Maintaining a healthy weight is important for lowering blood pressure, and even losing as little as five pounds can have remarkable results. Maintaining caloric intake or introducing a caloric deficit can help lower blood pressure.
Paying attention to what you eat also compliments efforts to lower blood pressure. Avoiding processed foods that are packed with sodium is essential, and so is making healthy choices when it comes to getting more vegetables, fruit, and fiber. Items such as fish, legumes, and whole grains can boost HDL cholesterol, which can lead to lower blood pressure.
One more thing to support your efforts above and beyond activity is sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can play a key role in blood pressure, and it can play an even bigger role if you suffer from sleep apnea.
Activity is probably the most influential component to a healthy heart, but if you’re trying to get your blood pressure even lower, it’s essential to take other factors into consideration. Try these ideas to help you get over the hump!