Updated: May 21, 2020
At CBC, we always talk about good nutrition, but it takes more than that to live your best life, you must use your vessel the way it was intended. In order to normalize blood pressure, the blood has to flow, which is why regular movement is so important. A recent WebMD article I read on natural ways to decrease high blood pressure said it perfectly, “Exercise is the soulmate to eating right.” Simple daily movement and taking care of the vessel that G-d gave you, is imperative to normalizing blood flow and pressure.
According to Cardiologist Dr. Luke Laffin of the Cleveland Clinic, “Blood pressure management is 70% lifestyle [includes exercise, meditation or nutrition] and 30% medications. If you don’t make lifestyle changes, don’t bother taking blood pressure medications, because they won’t work effectively.” To be clear, I’m not suggesting you don’t take your meds, but I am begging that you LISTEN TO YOUR DOCTORS, if it’s worth it to you to take a pill, it should be worth it to you to change your lifestyle.
These are not magic pills that your doctors are handing you. In most cases, these prescriptions are life saving measures meant to bring you out of the danger zone so that you have time to make the necessary lifestyle changes to take control of your life back. This is why when they are prescribed, good doctors will always talk to you about your diet and exercise habits at the same time.
When you invest in a high end car, you start using premium gas to maintain that machine. So, why invest in doctor visit copays and trips to the pharmacy for your medicine, if you’re not going to take care of the body you’re putting that medicine in?
Below are the top 3 natural weighs to lower your blood pressure outside of a balanced whole foods diet.
Low Impact Activity: The most important thing about your choice in aerobic activity is to continuously try new things until you can choose something you love so that it will stick. If you love to run or go to the gym, that’s fantastic, but aerobic activity can also include: Active Gardening, Dancing, Riding a Bike, Swimming, or even light walking with your favorite music on your headphones, with a friend or even while on the phone with a loved one. A simple 30 minute walk when you first wake up can make a world of difference. A minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic activity a week can lower blood pressure 5 to 8 mmHg, this equates to: 30 minutes/ 5 days a week, 20 minutes/ 7 days a week, or even 15 minutes/2x per day. In addition to the increase in normalized blood flow, another benefit of regular exercise is that every 2.2 lbs you lose, there is a potential drop of 1 mmHg in blood pressure.
Moderate Resistance Activity: While weight lifting causes short term rises in blood pressure, regular resistance training decreases your blood pressure in the long term. What does this mean? Like everything else, consult your doctor first and then start slow, and know that this is a lifestyle change, not a temporary fix, so you have time to increase the weight. To ensure the long term effects take place, and decrease the risk of short term impacts, try the following techniques to avoid spikes in blood pressure.
Start with including resistance training in your routine a minimum of 2 days per week.
Learn and use proper form and focus on lighter weights.
Challenge yourself with the number of repetitions, rather than the amount of weight to avoid excess strain.
Don't hold your breath. Breathe steadily and continuously throughout each lift to keep your air passages open.
Alternate between upper and lower body exercises to let your muscles rest during exercise. Each muscle group should be trained two days per week.
Rest between sets should start at 90 seconds or greater.
Avoid sets to failure. Start with one set and gradually progress to three submaximal sets depending on your goal.
To get started from home, try resistance bands.
Active Commitment to Meditation: The most commonly known way to raise blood pressure is to cause unnecessary stressors. Therefore, committing to practicing and knowing how to tap into personal meditations, meaning deep contemplation of positive and relaxing individual thoughts and breaths whenever needed is key to a happy, low pressure lifestyle. Chronic stress causes a constant fight-or-flight mode, which means a faster heart rate and constricted blood vessels (aka high blood pressure). Some options for these type of mind-body exercises are:
Traditional meditation with daily affirmations
Calming music, whatever that might mean to you
Getting regular sun
Relying on your support network to lighten your mood.
Taking control of your environment and doing whatever it is you need to do to ensure that you are only surrounded by supportive, positive energies
As humans, high stress levels don’t only raise our blood pressure, but they also lead to further hypertension causing behaviors like drinking alcohol, eating unhealthy food, and being stagnant in front of the television. This means that even if we can’t eliminate ALL of our stress triggers, we need to find ways to manage and react to them in a healthier way.
Some examples include:
Control your circle. Your vibe is your tribe so make sure you’re surrounding yourself with people who keep your vibe calm and productive through support and positivity.
Changing expectations. This many mean planning your day, focusing on fewer daily priorities, being okay if not everything gets done and learning to say no.
Focus on issues you can control & be solution oriented for these. If rush-hour traffic on the way to work causes stress, try leaving earlier in the morning. If you’re having problems at work, consult with your manager or a trusted mentor to find a solution.
Make time each day to relax and to do something for you and only you. Sit quietly and breathe deeply. Make time for enjoyable activities or hobbies in your schedule, such as reading, arts & crafts, taking a walk, cooking or volunteering.
Most importantly, practice gratitude and patience.