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If you’ve recently been diagnosed with high blood pressure, you may be wondering if there are ways, aside from your medication, to control it. While medication is a proven method for lowering blood pressure, there are several modifications that you can make to your lifestyle in order to help control this issue as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, the following are some of your best options.

Decrease your waistline: Being overweight can actually increase your blood pressure even if you’re healthy in every other way. In fact, being just 10 pounds overweight can cause a serious increase in your numbers. If you find it difficult to judge whether or not you are overweight, a general rule of thumb is so go by waist circumference. Men with a waist measurement greater than 40 inches and women with a waist measurement greater than 35 inches are automatically at an increased risk for high blood pressure. Try following these tips for simple ways to reduce your midsection.

Get in your regular workouts: Experts recommend at least 30-60 minutes of exercise 4-6 days a week for optimum results. In fact, committing to a regular workout plan can actually lower your blood pressure by 4-9 millimeters after only a few weeks. While sticking to a regular routine can be difficult, finding a workout that is fun and fits into your schedule will help staying on track a little easier.

pound workout

Commit to healthy eating: You don’t have to “diet” per say in order to eat healthy, but you do need to make healthier choices. To help lower blood pressure, try eliminating foods that are processed, enriched or contain added sugar. Focus on adding whole grains, fruits, vegetables and low-fat diary. If you have issues keeping track of what you are eating, try using a diet or calorie-tracking app to enter all of your meals and activity. If you find it difficult to give up your favorite meals, try ditching the traditional recipe for a skinnier version, for full-on flavor without all of the bad stuff.

Reduce your sodium intake: If you struggle with blood pressure issues, limit your sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams per day. One of the easiest ways to manage your sodium intake is by avoiding processed foods and eliminating extra salt in recipes.

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Reduce your alcohol intake: Even if you have the okay from your doctor, try limiting your alcohol intake to a few drinks a week. If you have a tendency toward binge drinking, it may be time go cut it cold turkey, and speak to your doctor about the issue.

Quit smoking… ASAP: Not only can smoking cause lung cancer, puffing away on your daily pack can also raise your blood pressure by 10 mm Hg, and keep it elevated for over an hour after you’ve finish that cigarette. If this is true for those without blood pressure issues, just think about all of the negative effects smoking is having on your body.

quit smoking

Limit your caffeine intake: While caffeine is not a direct tie to blood pressure issues, it has been shown to elevated levels in some patients. To be on the safe side, try checking your blood pressure within 30 minutes of drinking a caffeinated beverage. If you notice an increase, it’s probably best to end your love affair with caffeine. If there’s no change, than feel free to continue sipping.

Reduce your stress levels: Whether it’s your professional or your personal life that’s stressing you out, you need to find a way to manage it. Try adding in regular yoga workouts, meditation or even an occasional massage. If you feel yourself beginning to stress, try walking away from the situation… literally. Often even stepping away for a few breaths can help to reduce stress levels.

meditate

Keep regular tabs on your blood pressure: In addition to keeping up with regular doctor visits, make sure you know how to take your blood pressure at home. Try to take your blood pressure a couple of times throughout the day as well as any time that you begin to feel stressed. Doing so will help to prevent any issues before they have a chance to begin.

Build your support team: Make sure that both friends and family are aware of your blood pressure issues. Enlist them to help you with healthy eating and exercise, as well as general encouragement. Having a great support system is perhaps one of the most important tips, as the people we have in our lives can often dictate both our good and bad habits.

If you’ve been struggling with high blood pressure, the first step is to see your doctor. Follow orders as they are given, and try incorporating these tips to decrease your blood pressure and increase your overall health.