5 easy ways to lower your blood pressure – trust us, you’ll enjoy them
Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day and Memorial Day aren’t the only stars of the month of May. It’s also “High Blood Pressure Education Month,” and, while we recognize that doesn’t exactly scream fun, we’ve come up with five easy ways to lower your blood pressure that do include sunshine, puppies and wine. Oh, did we mention chocolate?
First, a bit of a blood pressure primer: High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, makes your heart work harder to pump blood throughout your body. High blood pressure can cause some serious health risks, such as strokes and heart attacks and cause your arteries to harden.
Doctors say there are several causes of high blood pressure. Some of the top offenders: smoking, being overweight or obese, having a high-sodium diet, stress, drinking too much, genetics and older age.
Here are five proven ways you can lower your blood pressure:
- Adopt a pet. News flash! On May 9, the American Heart Association issued a scientific statement published in the journal Circulation, noting that owning a pet might lower your risk of heart disease, as pets can help people deal better with stress. Also, in a study of more than 5,200 adults, those who owned dogs did more walking and engaged in more physical activity than those who did not and they were 54 percent more likely to get the recommended level of exercise. Fido’s eagerness to go for a walk is contagious. Before you adopt, make sure a pet is right for your family. Work with a local humane society or rescue group to find a breed and temperament that will be good for your family. Adding a pet to your family? Get coupons and Cash Back offers at PetSmart or Petco.
- Soak up the sun. Another study released earlier this week from Scottish researchers suggests getting some sunshine can help reduce stroke and heart attack risks. The scientists at the University of Edinburgh found that when our skin is exposed to sunlight, the compound nitric oxide is released in our blood vessels that ultimately helps lower blood pressure. For the study, volunteers sat beneath tanning lamps for two 20-minute sessions. In one session, the volunteers were exposed to both the UV rays and the heat lamps. In the other, the UV rays were blocked and only the lamp’s heat hit the skin. The findings showed that blood pressure dropped significantly for one hour following exposure to the UV rays, but not following the heat-only sessions. Of course you’ll still need sunblock. Get some at drugstore.com.
- Yoga or meditation. When relaxed, your body produces more nitric oxide, the compound that helps lower blood pressure. Check your local recreation center or gym for yoga or tai chi courses.
- Eat chocolate. Make sure it’s the dark type and contains at least 70 percent cocoa. A 2010 study from the American Heart Association found that women who ate an average of one to two servings of the high-quality chocolate per week had a 32 percent lower risk of developing heart failure. Need to stock up on some chocolate? Get 4 percent Cash Back at Godiva.
- Low levels of alcohol. We won’t go so far as to say that glass of wine a day will keep the doctor away. But, drinking in moderation — we’re talking no more than one or two servings of alcohol a day — can be good for your heart. The alcohol can increase your “good cholesterol” levels, which helps prevent blood clots and reduces the risks of strokes or heart attacks.
Other articles you might also like:
• The Freshman 15: Fact or fiction?
• Happy International ‘No Diet’ Day! Here’s how to honor the day
• Bikini bootcamp: 5 no-gym drills to get your body ready for summer
• Cinco de Mayo healthy recipes and activities
• Five secrets to help you get your best night’s sleep
• Health benefits of tomatoes, plus a recipe to satisfy your pizza cravings