Blood pressure is the force of blood pressing against your arteries as blood travels around your body. The first number (systolic) is the force when your heart contracts, and the second number (diastolic) is the force in your blood vessels when your heart relaxes.
Ideally, when seated your blood pressure should be 120/80 mmHg or less. High blood pressures above 140/90 mmHg (hypertension) can increase your risk for heart attack or stroke.
These lifestyle actions can help you lower your blood pressure.
Individuals who are overweight or obese (Body Mass Index is greater than 25 kg-m-2) are at a much greater risk for high blood pressure. Losing as little as 10 lb (4.5 kg) can have a big impact on lowering your blood pressure.
Increase Physical Activity
Regular physical activity is an important step in lowering your blood pressure and improving your health. Aim to complete 30 minutes of moderate physical activity per day on most days of the week. Brisk walking is an excellent way to increase your physical activity. Remember, even small amounts of physical activity can have a positive impact on your health.
Reduce or Manage Stress
Stress raises your blood pressure. Repeated exposure to stress can contribute to high blood pressure and other health challenges. Finding ways to safely reduce and manage your stress (i.e. exercise) can lower your blood pressure.
Maintain a Healthy Diet and Reduce Salt Intake
A healthy diet lower in sodium (salt), saturated fat and trans fat can help lower your blood pressure. Healthy foods include vegetables and fruits, low-fat dairy products, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains.
Reduce Alcohol Intake
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. It is recommended for blood pressure reduction that daily alcohol consumption should be limited to 1 drink per day for women and 2 drinks per day for men.
The chemicals in cigarettes cause your blood vessels to get smaller. As a result of the smaller blood vessels, your heart will beat faster and increase blood pressure. Quitting or reducing your smoking can lead to lower blood pressure.
Last Reviewed: December 2016
© 2016 Province of British Columbia. All rights reserved. May be reproduced in its entirety provided the source is acknowledged. This information is not meant to replace advice from your medical doctor or individual counselling with a health professional. It is intended for educational and informational purposes only.