9 Ways to control your blood pressure

Here are 9 lifestyle changes you can make to lower your blood pressure and keep it down.

1. Lose extra pounds and watch your waistline

Blood pressure often increases as weight increases. Being overweight can also disrupt your breathing while you sleep (sleep apnea), which further raises your blood pressure.Weight loss is one of the most effective lifestyle changes for controlling blood pressure. Losing just 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms) can help reduce your numbers down to safer levels. Apart from shedding pounds, do keep an eye on your waistline. Carrying too much weight around your waist can place you at even heavier risk.

2. Exercise regularly

Regular physical activity — at least 30 minutes most days of the week — can lower your blood pressure by 4 to 9 millimeters on a mercurial blood pressure monitor. It's important to be consistent in your lifestyle changes because stopping your exercise habit may cause your blood pressure to rise again.The best types of exercise for lowering blood pressure include walking, jogging, cycling, swimming or dancing. Strength training also can help reduce blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about developing an exercise program suited to your needs.

3. Eat a healthy diet

Changing your eating habits isn’t always easy, but keeping your health and the following tips in mind can help you adopt a healthy diet.

- Keep a food diary. Writing down what you eat, even for just a week, can shed surprising light on your true eating habits. Monitor what you eat, how much, when and why.
- Consider boosting potassium. Potassium can lessen the effects of sodium on blood pressure. The best source of potassium is food, such as fruits and vegetables, rather than supplements. Talk to your doctor about the potassium level that's best for you.
- Be a smart shopper. Read food labels when you shop and stick to your healthy-eating plan when you are dining out.

4. Reduce sodium in your diet

Even a small reduction in the sodium content of your diet can reduce your blood pressure by 2 to 8mm on a mercurial BP monitor.

Anyone diagnosed with high blood pressure, diabetes or chronic kidney disease needs to decrease their sodium intake. Consider these tips:

- Read food labels. If possible, choose low-sodium alternatives of the foods and beverages you normally buy.
- Eat fewer processed foods. Only a small amount of sodium occurs naturally in foods. Most sodium is added during processing.
- Don't add salt. Just 1 level teaspoon of salt has 2,300 mg of sodium. Use herbs or spices to add flavor to your food.
- Ease into it. If you don't feel you can drastically reduce the sodium in your diet suddenly, cut back gradually. Your palate will adjust over time.

5. Limit the amount of alcohol you drink
Alcohol can be both good and bad for your health. In small amounts, it can potentially lower your blood pressure by 2 to 4 mm of mercury in your BP monitor.
Drinking more than moderate amounts of alcohol can actually raise blood pressure by several points. It can also reduce the effectiveness of blood pressure medications.

6. Quit smoking

Each cigarette you smoke increases your blood pressure for many minutes after you finish. Quitting smoking helps your blood pressure return to normal. People who quit smoking, regardless of age, have substantial increases in life expectancy.

7. Reduce your stress

Chronic stress is an important contributor to high blood pressure. Occasional stress also can contribute to high blood pressure if you react to stress by eating unhealthy food, drinking alcohol or smoking.
If you can't eliminate all of your stressors, you can at least cope with them in a healthier way. Try to:

- Change your expectations. Give yourself time to get things done. Learn to say no and to live within manageable limits. Try to learn to accept things you can't change.
- Think about problems under your control and make a plan to solve them. You could talk to your boss about difficulties at work or to family members about problems at home.
- Know your stress triggers. Avoid whatever triggers you can. For example, spend less time with people who bother you or avoid driving in rush-hour traffic.
- Make time to relax and to do activities you enjoy. Take 15 to 20 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe deeply. Try to intentionally enjoy what you do rather than hurrying through your "relaxing activities" at a stressful pace.
- Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude to others can help reduce stressful thoughts.

8. Monitor your blood pressure at home and see your doctor regularly

Home monitoring can help you keep tabs on your blood pressure. It helps make certain that your lifestyle changes are effective, and alert you and your doctor of potential health complications. Blood pressure monitors are available widely and can be purchased without a prescription. Talk to your doctor about home monitoring before you get started.

9. Get support

Supportive family and friends can help improve your health. Welcome their encouragement for you to take care of yourself, drive you to the doctor's office or embark on an exercise program with you to keep your blood pressure low.

Let us watch ourselves this coming holiday season. Let us observe these lifestyle changes and prevent ourselves from depending solely on medications to control our blood pressure. Highblood pressure or hypertension if left unattended may lead to more serious conditions including stroke, heart disease, kidney failure and eye problems.