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Tips to Prevent High Blood PressureTips to Prevent High Blood Pressure


Prevent High Blood Pressure

Normal blood pressure is less than 120 millimeters of mercury over less than 80 millimeters of mercury. Maintaining a normal blood pressure reading is important for heart health, but lifestyle, food, and the environment can cause numbers to creep up to unhealthy levels. Here are a few ways to prevent high blood pressure and promote heart health.

Monitor your weight and waist

Being overweight increases your risk of developing high blood pressure. If you are overweight, losing as little as five pounds can help lower your reading. In addition to the number on the scale, waist circumference also plays a role in your risk level. Men who have a waist greater than 40 inches and women with a waist greater than 35 inches are at greater risk for high blood pressure.

Pay attention to more than sodium

Health experts recommend that sodium intake be limited 2,300 milligrams per day, but regulating blood pressure involves more than sodium. Potassium helps to lessen the effects of excess sodium and regulate blood pressure. Research also shows that getting adequate amounts of calcium and magnesium also helps to keep blood pressure at healthy levels.

Keep moving

Regular exercise helps keep blood pressure within normal ranges as you age. It is also a key component of losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight. If your blood pressure begins to increase, research shows that regular physical activity can decrease systolic blood pressure (the top number) by four to nine millimeters of mercury. This is similar to the effect of some blood pressure medications. Be patient and stay active. It takes one to three months for exercise to have an influence on blood pressure levels.

Create stress outlets

Too much stress can lead to high blood pressure, but it is still unclear how this happens. It could be that stress affects other factors that contribute to elevated levels like overeating high-sodium foods, weight gain, or lack of exercise. It may also be the effect of elevated stress hormones. The bottom line is that reducing stress promotes healthy blood pressure. Finding outlets that relieve your stress will help to reduce its impact on your health. Take breaks for relaxation exercises, get in regular workouts, use your vacation days, or try yoga and meditation.

Stay smoke-free

Smoking and second-hand smoke cause damage to the blood vessels, which increases the risk for high blood pressure. Stay away from smoky environments, and if you smoke, stop.


How to Keep Your Job From Hurting Your HealthHow to Keep Your Job From Hurting Your Health


How to Keep Your Job From Hurting Your Health
Switch to a stand-up desk

Stop sitting

Research shows that sitting all day can increase risk for chronic disease and decrease life span. Unfortunately, this risk is not reduced by regular workouts, which makes adding more movement throughout the day essential for health.

  • Walk around your office when you are on a phone call.
  • Take regular breaks to stand and stretch.
  • Walk the stairs on your way to meetings.
  • Invite coworkers to meet while you walk together.
  • Switch to a treadmill desk or a standing desk.

Minimize stressful situations

According to the annual Work Stress Survey conducted by Everest College, 83 percent of Americans report that that their jobs cause stress. Excess stress can lead to emotional eating, physical aches and pains, and increased risk of chronic disease. Every job involves tough problems and unwanted encounters with difficult people. While you can often do little about project assignments or your work team, you can change how you react to these situations.

  • Create a work plan and tackle each task one step at a time. Set boundaries and create blocks of time when you work uninterrupted and when you will take breaks.
  • Keep an open mind when working with others.
  • Talk out your problems and ask for advice from those you trust.
  • Take a break from stressful environments and go for a walk or perform deep breathing exercises.
  • Find an outlet for your stress. Exercise regularly, practice yoga, get a massage or carve out time for other activities that relax you.

Reduce snacking

Snacking can get out of control at the workplace. A candy jar on the front desk, donuts at morning meetings and afternoon vending machine stops can add up to hundreds of extra calories per day.

  • Eat before you get to meetings to avoid being tempted by unhealthy options.
  • Pack your own healthy snacks at home and skip the vending machine.
  • Don’t skip lunch. This will only lead to over-snacking in the afternoon.
  • Volunteer to bring healthy options to work meetings and potlucks.

Use your benefits

Many employers offer valuable benefits for the health of employees. Don’t overlook these resources. Talk to your human resources department about what is available and inquire with coworkers who currently take advantage.

  • Enroll in wellness programs offered by health insurance companies that allow you to earn points and prizes for reporting your healthy behaviors.
  • Attend free health screenings to monitor your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and body mass index.
  • Take part in work-life seminars and workshops for healthy cooking, reducing blood pressure, and smoking cessation.
  • Use your vacations day. Taking a break and changing your environment, even if it is for one day, reduces stress and helps you return with a refreshed outlook.

6 Grocery Shopping Mistakes6 Grocery Shopping Mistakes


Grocery Shopping Mistakes
Grocery Shopping Mistake #1: Shopping at Eye Level

Healthy eating starts at the market. Avoid these grocery shopping mistakes to ensure you get the best foods for your health and budget.

Shopping at eye level

A lot of research goes into product placement at the supermarket. The next time you visit, pay attention to the products at eye level. They are often prepared foods or meal kits and they are not always the healthiest option. Look high and low for less popular foods and generic brands with lower prices, which are often less processed. For example, regular dried beans are almost always on the bottom shelf.

Shopping when hungry

It takes self-discipline and commitment to resist the temptation to splurge when surrounded by unhealthy foods. Arriving at the supermarket hungry, makes it even harder to resist grabbing a quick, high-calorie snack. Avoid this scenario and shop right after a meal, or pack a healthy snack to eat on the way. If you must get something at the store, opt for a piece of fruit, a single serving bag of unsalted nuts, or a low-fat yogurt.

Not consulting the staff

Don’t settle for produce that isn’t at its peak. Ask members of the produce department if there is more available. If you know you will use it quickly and it hasn’t completely passed it’s prime, ask for a discount. At the meat counter, ask for the cuts with fat trimmed or smaller portions. Inquire about where the food came from, how it was raised, and when it was harvested. Fresher, more natural foods are often the most nutritious.

Rushing through the supermarket

Poor choices are often made when under pressure. While it is difficult to avoid a quick stop at the store for a last minute item, make food shopping a priority on your to-do list just like you do for your workout. Committing time to search for foods, reading labels, and asking questions will help you find the healthiest options. Sprinting down the aisle will only lead to impulse purchases that you may regret later.

Missing an opportunity to stock up

Fruits, vegetables, and lean meats freeze well for up to two to three months. When these foods are on sale, plan to buy extra to freeze and use throughout the coming weeks. Stock up on berries to add to smoothies and oatmeal. Freeze broccoli and cauliflower for soups and stews. Grab extra naturally-raised meats and sustainable fish when you find the best prices.

Arriving unprepared

It’s frustrating when you find a great sale, but you have to pass because you aren’t headed home right afterward. Keep a small cooler in the trunk of the car and add ice packs before you leave each day. When you run into an unbeatable deal on cold foods, you won’t have to skip out on stocking up. Also, always come to the market prepared with a list. Even if you don’t follow it exactly, it will serve as a guideline for the foods you need to stay on track with your eating plan.

6 Healthy Ways to Celebrate Spring6 Healthy Ways to Celebrate Spring


Healthy Ways to Celebrate Spring

Get to work in the yard

Landscaping, gardening, and lawn mowing are big calorie burners. A day of sprucing up the exterior of your home can easily blast the same calories you’d burn during your workout at the gym. Yard work also meets the criteria to count towards the 30 minutes of daily exercise recommended for health. (See The Best Home and Garden Chores for Burning Calories for exercise ideas.)

Sign up for a fitness event

Training to compete in a fitness event encourages you to create an exercise plan that has purpose and a specific goal. A 5K race or triathlon are good choices, but consider thinking beyond a road race. Golf scrambles, sand volleyball leagues, disc golf, hikes, and dog walks all provide opportunities for fitness and they can challenge your training in new ways.

Try a new recipe

Incorporating new recipes into your daily menus is necessary to avoid falling into a rut with healthy eating. The more exciting and flavorful your meals, the less likely you will be to stray from your healthy habits.

Buy new athletic shoes

Quality athletic shoes are important for exercise safety and trying a new pair can motivate you to hit the gym. Old, worn out shoes stress the joints, which can lead to injury. A new pair with a good fit designed for your choice of activity can help keep you safe and healthy. (See Athletic Shoes: A Buyers Guide.)

Join a weekend clean-up committee

Help keep your community clean by volunteering with a local committee to remove trash near the creek or refurbish an empty urban lot into a park or garden. These events get you moving, and research also shows that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health. It can lead to greater overall satisfaction with life and reduced rates of depression.

Clean out the kitchen

An organized kitchen that is filled with nutritious foods makes healthy eating easy. Toss out any unhealthy snacks that have been tempting you. Organize whole grains and dry beans in clear containers so that you can find them quickly. Keep storage containers in one place to fill with single servings of leftovers for a grab-and-go lunch. If you need some help with organizing and stocking your healthy kitchen, see The Healthy Kitchen Test and How to Select and Store Fruits and Vegetables.

4 Things that Make You Eat More4 Things that Make You Eat More


Things that Make You Eat More

Recognizing hunger cues is the key to controlling your appetite and reaching weight loss goals, but hunger can be deceiving. Pay attention to how these four things affect your appetite to prevent overeating.

Too much alcohol

Despite the grumbling stomach you might feel after a few drinks, most research doesn’t directly link alcohol to increased hunger. But alcoholic drinks gradually decrease your inhibitions making it much easier to order nachos instead of a salad or add dessert at the end of a meal. These extra calories, plus the calories in your drink, can result in weight gain. Pay attention to how much you snack while sipping.

Lack of sleep

Surveys show that most people get only five to six hours of sleep per night, but research suggests you need seven to nine. Skimping on sleep causes an increase in appetite stimulating hormones and a decrease in hormones that signal fullness. The increased cravings and hunger that result can lead to a higher calorie intake and weight gain.


Stress causes spikes in cortisol levels, which lead to increased hunger and emotional eating. Cravings for high-carbohydrate, high-fat, and high-sugar foods are common during times of stress because these foods trigger feel-good chemicals in the brain that help relieve tension. Without alternatives to relieve stress, like deep breathing exercises and physical activity, emotional eating becomes difficult to resist.

Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, and pasta can cause a spike in blood sugar that is quickly followed by a drop, often called a crash. This crash results in hunger making you feel as if you didn’t eat an hour ago. You can help to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce spikes and crashes by eating complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and including lean protein with your meals and snacks.

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