High Blood Pressure
Frequently Asked Questions
14. What lifestyle changes can help me control my blood pressure?
Some people can lower their blood pressure by making the same kinds of lifestyle changes that can help prevent high blood pressure.
- Follow a healthy eating plan that includes fruits, vegetables, fat-free and low-fat milk products, whole grains, fish, poultry and nuts. See how the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) can help with blood pressure control.
- Cut down on salt and sodium in the diet.Try not to eat more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day.
- Be physically active for at least 2 and one-half hours a week. Check out Exercises to Try for older adults, or visit Go4Life®, the exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging.
- Maintain a healthy weight, and lose weight if you are overweight or obese. Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference are measures used to determine if someone is overweight or obese. See the BMI calculator to determine your body mass index.
- Limit alcohol intake to no more than one drink a day for women and no more than two drinks a day for men. Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure. Alcohol also adds extra calories, which may cause weight gain. (Watch the video for tips on how to cut back on your drinking. To enlarge the video, click the brackets in the lower right-hand corner. To reduce the video, press the Escape (Esc) button on your keyboard.)
- Quit smoking, or don't start smoking. To get help quitting, call 1 (800) QUIT-NOW or check out Quitting Smoking for Older Adults.
- Learn to manage stress. Learn about relaxation techniques that may relieve tension.
You may find it hard to make lifestyle changes. Start by making one healthy lifestyle change and then adopt others.
If you combine healthy lifestyle habits, you can achieve even better results than taking single steps.