Roughly one in eight people dies because of high blood pressure.
High blood pressure is quite common in my family, so I decided to do some research. This quick tutorial shares what I’ve learned — feel free to read on if you’re interested.
👇 What are the pillars of reducing blood pressure and increasing healthspan?
As coders, we may not always be known for leading a healthy lifestyle, but the fact is that nearly half of adults in the US suffer from high blood pressure. Billions of dollars are spent on pills to alleviate this problem, but what if we emphasize lifestyle changes instead?
I’m a firm believer that lifestyle changes are the key to a healthier future – and this is something I’ve experienced firsthand.
Here are eight major lifestyle changes to live healthier and longer (statistically speaking):
#1 – Exercise regularly
Regular exercise helps to keep your blood pressure in check. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week.
Establishing a successful fitness routine requires dedication and effort, but it can be an incredibly rewarding endeavor!
Setting achievable goals and making an exercise plan that fits into your lifestyle is a great place to start. Incorporating fun into your workouts by adding music or doing a group workout can make them even more enjoyable.
Finding an accountability partner to keep you motivated and making sure to get enough rest are also essential.
Tracking your progress and rewarding yourself for achieving your goals will help keep you motivated, and don’t forget to keep your routine varied – it’s ok to miss a workout or not see results right away. With enough consistency, you will achieve your fitness goals.
#2 – Monitor your salt intake
Eating too much salt can increase your blood pressure. Limit your intake to no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium a day.
Limit salt intake to increase health and reduce the risk of heart disease, stroke, and high blood pressure. Read nutrition labels, reduce processed foods, and use herbs and spices instead of salt. Fresh or frozen vegetables and fruits, no extra salt.
#3 – Eat a healthy diet
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, and whole grains can help to lower your blood pressure.
If you’re ready to take your lifestyle to the next level and make positive changes that last, start by incorporating more nutritious foods into your diet, like fruits and veggies, lean proteins, and whole grains.
Limit processed foods, sugar, salt, and saturated fat, and make sure to drink plenty of water.
Don’t forget to make time for breakfast, get enough rest, manage stress, and eat smaller portions. Be mindful of the food choices you make and don’t forget to get regular exercise!
With these simple changes, you can create a healthier lifestyle and make it stick.
#4 – Reduce stress
Stress can cause your blood pressure to rise. Take time to relax and practice stress-relieving activities such as yoga or meditation.
Finding time for yourself is a great way to reduce stress. Give yourself even a few minutes of rest and relaxation each day to help keep your stress levels under control.
Deep breaths, calming music, and activities you love can all help you feel more relaxed.
Spending time with friends and family and getting enough sleep can also be a great way to destress.
#5 – Limit alcohol consumption
Drinking too much alcohol can increase your blood pressure. The American Heart Association recommends drinking no more than two drinks a day for men and one drink a day for women.
To help ensure you stay in control and enjoy yourself, set a limit for yourself before you start drinking and stick to it.
Have a nutritious meal with healthy fats and proteins before you start drinking, as this will help slow the absorption of alcohol. As you are drinking, alternate your alcoholic beverages with water and avoid drinking games and any situations that may lead to excessive drinking.
Before you go out, plan ahead and make sure you have a designated driver or enough money for a cab so you can get home safely.
And finally, make sure the people you are with are not drinking heavily, as this could also lead to excessive drinking.
I used to drink a lot of alcohol, multiple times per week.
The game-changer for me was to escape from my previous toxic environment where alcohol was ubiquitous. It’s super hard to reduce alcohol consumption if all your friends drink a lot. But it’s easy to do it if your environment is more healthy and positive.
#6 – Lose weight
If you are overweight, losing weight can help to lower your blood pressure.
How to lose weight?
- Start by making small changes to your diet and lifestyle.
- Eat smaller portions and focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods.
- Incorporate more fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and healthy fats into your diet.
- Avoid sugary drinks and processed snacks.
- Exercise regularly, even if it’s just a short walk every day.
- Try to find an activity you enjoy and make it part of your routine.
- Get enough sleep and practice relaxation techniques such as yoga or meditation.
- Lastly, stay motivated and track your progress.
For me, the game-changing tip was to keep a food diary and note how my body responds to the changes I was making.
Dedication and consistency can make a lasting impact on your health and weight.
#7 – Quit smoking
Smoking increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. Quitting can help to reduce your risk.
If you want to quit smoking, why not plan it out and take it one step at a time?
Set a quit date and let your loved ones know about your decision. To avoid temptations, stay away from places and situations that might trigger cravings.
To replace your smoking habit, why not try engaging in healthier activities such as exercise, reading, or simply getting some fresh air?
Talk to your doctor to find out what medications, if any, and other resources you can access to help you quit.
Finally, don’t forget to reward yourself for all your hard work and dedication – this will help you stay motivated!
Last but not least, here’s a bonus tip — that’s a bit tougher to implement for many people.
#8 – Bonus – Eat vegan/vegetarian
I found in too many research papers to count that vegans have a significantly reduced risk of high blood pressure. I’m not a (medical) doctor but there’s a lot of scientific evidence.
Here’s an example excerpt from one of the research papers:
“Nevertheless, the investigators found that vegans and lacto-ovo vegetarians had significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and significantly lower odds of hypertension (0.37 and 0.57, respectively), when compared to non-vegetarians. Furthermore, the vegan group, as compared to lacto-ovo vegetarians, not only was taking fewer antihypertensive medications but, after adjustment for body mass index, also had lower blood pressure readings.”
🌍 Source: [2017 Alexander et al. Journal of Geriatric Cardiology]
Many additional studies show similar results — proving a higher life expectancy and health span of vegetarians.
Eating a plant-based diet is a delicious and nutritious way to keep your body healthy and fuel your mind.
You can fill your plate with various proteins like beans, lentils, nuts, tofu, and seitan and explore cuisines worldwide with vegetarian-friendly dishes.
Also, make sure to include colorful fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains and fortified non-dairy milk and cereals for essential vitamins and minerals.
Enhance the flavor of your meals with herbs, spices, and sauces and you’ll have a delicious and nutritious plate of food.
Unlike pills, implementing these tips doesn’t have negative side effects. But they’re as effective in reducing blood pressure.
They also save money (smoking and excessive eating are expensive!) and boost productivity at work. They lead to higher life satisfaction and a more relaxed lifestyle. And they reduce the risk of dying of other deadly diseases like cancer.
I’m convinced. I aim to implement all these eight tips – especially #4, which is my bottleneck.
I hope you find useful hints for your life in that list! Thanks for reading, my friend. ♥️
Towards continuous improvement! 🚀
While working as a researcher in distributed systems, Dr. Christian Mayer found his love for teaching computer science students.
To help students reach higher levels of Python success, he founded the programming education website Finxter.com that has taught exponential skills to millions of coders worldwide. He’s the author of the best-selling programming books Python One-Liners (NoStarch 2020), The Art of Clean Code (NoStarch 2022), and The Book of Dash (NoStarch 2022). Chris also coauthored the Coffee Break Python series of self-published books. He’s a computer science enthusiast, freelancer, and owner of one of the top 10 largest Python blogs worldwide.
His passions are writing, reading, and coding. But his greatest passion is to serve aspiring coders through Finxter and help them to boost their skills. You can join his free email academy here.