Now you know whether your blood pressure is normal or high. To keep yourself healthy, there’s still more to learn. Having normal blood pressure doesn’t mean you’re off the hook — and if you found out your blood pressure is high, there are steps you can take right now to help!
This can’t be emphasized enough: If your doctor prescribed medication for your blood pressure, take it every day as prescribed, and don’t stop taking it without your doctor’s knowledge.
Besides being diligent about blood pressure medications, there are many things you can do to control your blood pressure. Here are some important habits to start:
- Measure and track your blood pressure at home.
- Be active! As little as 10 minutes of moderate activity at a time can make a difference. Build up to at least 150 minutes per week.
- Reach and stay at a healthy weight. Ask your doctor if you aren’t sure what your weight should be.
- If you don’t drink alcohol, don’t start. If you do drink alcohol, drink in moderation (one drink per day for women and two drinks per day for men).
- Limit the amount of fat you eat to 30% of your daily calories of less, and choose healthy fats (like olive oil, fish, nuts and seeds, and avocados) more often.
- Consume three servings of nonfat or low fat milk or dairy foods per day.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Try for nine servings (that’s 4 ½ cups) per day.
- Reduce sodium intake. Eat no more than 1500-2400 mg per day. Choose fresh foods more often than processed foods, and use herbs and spices instead of salt.
- If you smoke, quit.
It may seem overwhelming at first. After all, that’s a big list! Try starting small. Pick one bullet point and focus on that for the next week or two. After you feel confident you have made it a habit, pick another bullet point. Continue in this manner until you complete the list and take a look at your new healthy lifestyle!
Which healthy habit will you start today?