What you eat and drink can have a real effect on your heart health and can also directly affect your blood pressure. A healthy diet, regular exercise and maintaining a healthy weight will help to keep you in good shape and reduce your risk of future health problems.
To help lower your blood pressure and keep it down, it is important to follow a healthy diet. Take the first steps by following our eating plans and becoming more active day to day.
Cut down on the amount of salt in your food and eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. The link below to the Eatwell Guide highlights the different types of food that make up our diet, and shows the proportions we should eat them in to have a well-balanced and healthy diet.
Salt raises your blood pressure. The more salt you eat, the higher your blood pressure. Aim to eat less than 6g (0.2oz) of salt a day, which is about a teaspoonful.
Find out how to cut down on salt by clicking here
Eating a low-fat diet that includes lots of fibre – such as wholegrain rice, bread and pasta – and plenty of fruit and vegetables also helps lower blood pressure. Aim to eat five portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
Limit your alcohol intake - Regularly drinking alcohol above recommended limits can raise your blood pressure over time. Staying within these recommended levels is the best way to reduce your risk of developing high blood pressure: men and women are advised not to regularly drink more than 14 units a week spread your drinking over three days or more if you drink as much as 14 units a week Alcohol is also high in calories, which will make you gain weight and can further increase your blood pressure.
Lose weight – following our plan will help you do this. Being overweight forces your heart to work harder to pump blood around your body, which can raise your blood pressure.
Get active - Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition. Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure. Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week. Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking
Cut down on caffeine- Drinking more than four cups of coffee a day may increase your blood pressure. If you're a big fan of coffee, tea or other caffeine-rich drinks, such as cola and some energy drinks, consider cutting down. It's fine to drink tea and coffee as part of a balanced diet, but it's important that these drinks are not your main or only source of fluid.
Stop smoking - Smoking doesn't directly cause high blood pressure, but it puts you at much higher risk of a heart attack and stroke.
Get a good night's sleep - Long-term sleep deprivation is associated with a rise in blood pressure and an increased risk of hypertension. It's a good idea to try to get at least six hours of sleep a night if you can.
Regular physical activity is an important life-style factor in the management of high blood pressure and regular aerobic activity has been shown to reduce blood pressure, which is great news! Being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
Regular exercise can also help you lose weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
Adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) of moderate-intensity aerobic activity such as cycling or fast walking every week. For more detailed information on this just paste the link below into your browser:
Physical activity can include anything from sport to walking and gardening.
Ask yourself the following:
What is your start point?
What do you enjoy?
When is your availability?
What level can you realistically cope with?
What are your goals?
Once you have decided on the above you can follow the guidelines below with your eventual goal being: -
F- FREQUENCY = Working towards building activity into your daily routine
I-INTENSITY= Working at a moderate level where you feel mildly breathless, warm but comfortable.
T -TIME = One way to do your recommended 30 minutes is to work towards performing your chosen activity for a total of 30 minutes per day. This can be broken down and accumulated. You may begin with as little as 3-5 minutes each session and build gradually.
T - TYPE = any activity that fits well into your daily life. For example: Walking, Vigorous housework, cleaning the car, dancing to music at home, structured exercise ( gym sessions, classes etc.) sporting activities (swimming etc.), yoga/pilates, exercise DVD’s.
For a balanced programme you should also include toning exercises to increase muscle strength. If possible build up to 2 sessions a week. You should be toning all the main muscle groups, with low resistance, high repetition exercises. We have toning exercises on the “Exercise” section of our members website.
Ensure your GP is aware of your exercise programme and that your blood pressure is being monitored regularly.
Avoid high intensity aerobic exercise.
Ensure that you "breathe" correctly during toning exercises.
Avoid high intensity or sustained upper body exercise
If you feel light headed or dizzy stop exercising and discuss this with your GP.