Want to know exactly how much certain lifestyle changes can affect your blood pressure? Take a look at the numbers.
The Change: Lose weight.
The Payoff: You’ll lower your systolic blood pressure (the first number in your blood pressure results) by 5 to 20 points for every 20 pounds you lose. In fact, if you're overweight, losing as little as 10 pounds can help lower blood pressure. The weight loss goal is to get your body mass index (BMI) between 18.5 and 24.9.
The Change: Follow the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet.
The Payoff: This eating plan is high in fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy. Stick to it and watch your systolic blood pressure drop 8 to 14 points.
The Change: Cut back on sodium.
The Payoff: Limiting sodium to 2,400 milligrams per day can lower your number 2 to 8 points.
The Change: Exercise.
The Payoff: Do 30 minutes of physical activity most days of the week and cut your blood pressure by 4 to 9 points.
The Change: Drink less alcohol.
The Payoff: Bring down your systolic blood pressure 2 to 4 points when you limit yourself to one alcoholic drink a day (for women) or two drinks (for men).
One drink is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof liquor.