With a surplus of Americans over-working, over-stressing and over-eating, high blood pressure is a fatal problem in our country. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1,000 US deaths every day attribute high blood pressure as a “primary or contributing cause.”

To make matters more serious, recently released national guidelines have lowered the threshold qualification of high blood pressure. What does that mean? What was previously qualified as ‘prehypertension’ is now considered ‘stage 1 hypertension’ (high blood pressure). This monumental announcement has spiked diagnosis volume and insurance costs for millions throughout the U.S. qualifying almost 50% of Americans with stage 1 hypertension.

The core idea behind lowering the qualifications was not to force millions to hit the nearest pharmacy, but rather generate awareness for Americans to take-action surrounding their health to prevent the risk of developing these dangerous health conditions.

As a personal trainer and nutritionist for the past 4 years I have encountered many clients who face the harsh reality of hypertension. Here are some measures you can you take to avoid high blood pressure:

1.Unplug- Stress is one of the main triggers of high blood pressure. Find what triggers stress for you personally and find ways to separate yourself from it. Try spending a set amount of time each day practicing deep breathing, meditation or yoga, or use your workout time to clear your mind from daily activities and genuinely unplug. Making small lifestyle alterations such as removing electronics from the bedroom at night can also provide an escape from the realities of daily stressors.

2. Exercise regularly and monitor your heart– Spend at least 30 minutes a day exercising and getting your heart beating a little faster. Make it fun! Blood pressure often increases with weight gain and being overweight also can cause sleep apnea, which further raises blood pressure. It can be helpful to enroll in a regular workout routine that provides heart rate monitors. Fitness programs like FIT36 provide heart rate monitors to be utilized during 36 minute HIIT workouts that provide data on participants’ heart rate and help them stay in the anaerobic zone.

3. Eat a Healthy and Low Sodium Diet- Switching up your diet to consist of foods that are rich in nutrients and cut back on saturated fat and cholesterol can help to lower your blood pressure significantly (by up to 14 mm Hg) according to the Mayo Clinic. When developing your diet, think whole foods full of whole grains, fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, rather than processed foods. Be a smart shopper and read labels.

The Takeaway

Embracing positive, habitual lifestyle changes can be helpful in lowering blood pressure for those who already have their levels under control and those who are at risk for hypertension. The simple steps below can help you get on track to a healthier and more relaxed you:

-Remove electronics from your room around bedtime to reduce stress and improve sleep
-Take 30 minutes each day to work out and get your heart rate elevated
-Consume healthier
items and read food labels. The intake of alcohol and caffeine should also be
limited. Both of which cause a temporary, but dramatic increase in blood