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10 Natural Ways To Lower Blood Pressure

10 Natural Ways To Lower Blood Pressure

There are a lot of people with higher than normal blood pressure these days. If your doctor has expressed concern about your blood pressure, don’t worry – there are ways to lower your blood pressure naturally, and hopefully you can avoid medication. However, if you leave it too long, it will be too late to lower it naturally and you’ll have to depend on medication. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, kidney and heart failure, and stroke – to name a few! This condition is definitely worth taking seriously.

High blood pressure can be caused by a variety of issues: stress, existing health problems like kidney disease, genetics, obesity, too much sodium, and many more. Sometimes people look at a list like this and think “how will I ever find the time to fix all of this?” People lead busy lives these days, but these solutions won’t take too much of your time. In fact, by making different decisions each day, you can lower your blood pressure and impress your doctor! Here are 10 changes you can make that are proven to lower blood pressure:

1. Reduce Sodium Intake

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    This is probably the easiest and fastest one on the list. All you have to do is taking a quick look at the sodium amount listed in the nutritional content of any food and pick the healtheir option. Many restaurants are now listing which menu items are lower in sodium or fat content, so eating out won’t require too much added research either. You can also reduce sodium by gradually decreasing the amount of salt you add to your meals. Over time your taste buds will adapt and you won’t notice the difference.

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    2. Add More Vitamins and Minerals to Your Diet

    Pill Box

      Specifially, Vitamin B6, Potassium, Magnesium and Calcium. All of these are proven to naturally lower blood pressure, and they all have other health benefits as well. For example, did you know that a high number of people don’t have enough magnesium? However, before taking any additional supplements, be sure to talk to your doctor, particularly if you are already on any other medications. Because of drug interactions, you may need to take these supplements at different times or you may not even be able to take one or two of them.

      3. Lower Your Blood Sugar

        High blood sugar is a growing problem because of all the refined sugars and carbs available today. (Too bad they are cheap and delicious!) You don’t necessarily have to elminate these foods completely, but if your blood pressure is very high, you may want to avoid them completely until your health is under control. After that, you can probably indulge in a sweet treat once in a while, but be careful not to overdo it. Another product that increases blood sugar is sodas and other sugary drinks. If you the fizz of these drinks and carbonation will make water easier to drink, try mineral water like Perrier or San Pelligrino. You can find them wih natural flavors like lime and lemon.

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        4. Try Some Cardio

        Man Running Outside Along Desert Trail

          Cardio is a good way to lose excess pounds and get your heart pumping, both of which will help to lower your blood pressure. Busy people don’t have time to spend hours at the gym, but you can get some excercise in throughout the day, just by making some changes. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator whenever you have the option. If you work or live in a building where you are constantly taking the elevator, this alone will be a dramatic increase in your cardio exercise. You can also buy a step counter and wear it each day. Set some step goals and challenge yourself to increase the amount of steps you take each day.

          5. Weight Training

          weights

            Just like cardio, weight training can help you get in better shape which will result in lower blood pressure. If you don’t have time to hit the gym, try putting ankle weights on for part of the workday or using weights while watching Netflix in the evenings. You don’t have to carve out a hige amount of time to lift weights; you can get creative about it and do two things at once.

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            6. Yoga or Pilates

            yoga1

              Relaxing and beathing deeper are two keys to lower blood pressure. Yoga will help you to breathe deeply, relax your body and your mind, and stretch out your muscles. Pilates will make you sweat a little more than yoga, but ithis low-impact exercise will also help you to relax and is good for your muscles and joints. If you have time, try to do one or both of these at least twice a week.

              7. Walking

              walking

                Something as simple as going for a walk can do wonders for your mind and your body. In addition to helping you lower your blood pressure, walking will help you to lose weight, realx your body, give you new perspective on a problem, and it also gives you a much needed break from your busy day. Try taking some time out of your lunch hour to go for a walk and enjoy the sights and sounds around you.

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                8. Sleep More

                sleep

                  Because of the nature of the typical Western lifestyle these days, sleep has become a precious commodity that no one gets enough of. Over time however, lack of sleep can be a cause of high blood pressure. If your sleep cycle has become disrupted after too many late nights and early mornings, you can try taking Melatonin, (consult your doctor first) a naturally-occuring sleep hormone in your body. You shouldn’t take too much of it, and it should only be used for a short time to get your sleep cycle back on track. You can also ask your doctor for something stronger to help you sleep. Your to-do list will have to wait until morning or the weekend to get some, because sleep is (and should be) very important.

                  9. Kick the Bad Habits

                  no smoking

                    If you smoke, it will be very hard for you to lower your blood pressure naturally unless you quit. If you are serious about it, there are many options available today that have made it easier for a lot of smokers to quit. Cognitive beavior therapy, the Nicotine Patch, and the Nicotine Inhaler have all been successful. If you drink too much, this will also cause your blood pressure to rise. However, a glass of red wine has been proven to help lower blood pressure. You can still have a drink to unwind after a busy day, but you may have to change your drink of choice.

                    10. Learn to Relax

                    Girl Sitting Alone On Swing In Autumn

                      We live in a fast-paced, busy world that demands we rush to get to work, rush to get things done, rush home to spend time with our kids before going to bed and starting all over again the next day. The stress of this lifestyle is taking a severe toll on our bodies, and high blood pressure is one of the results. If you want to lower your blood pressure naturally, this is one of the most important ways to do it. You can (and should) take care of all the other items on this list, but if you fail to learn to relax and destress, you will be fighting this battle with your body for the rest of your life. Stress is very powerful and can severely harm your body if left unchecked. To successfully lower your blood pressure you will have to find a ways to relax. You may need to go to counselling to learn how to destress, schedule some “me time” where no one will bother you, or even change your job. In the long run, stress is just not worth your health. You don’t have to do it all at once – start with small, managable steps like taking the long way home a couple times a week, scheduling a day off here and there to spend with your family, or making time for a massage a couple times a month.

                      Featured photo credit: Piotr Marcinski via shutterstock.com

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                      Published on August 16, 2019

                      15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

                      15 Strength Training Exercises Specifically for Runners

                      When you choose the right exercises, and make strength training a priority, it will have a great payoff to improve your running. Studies have shown incorporating a strength training program to your running routine improves running economy.[1]

                      Here are 15 strength training exercises specifically for runners.

                      1. Planks

                      The plank is a very important core exercise that will help give you more control and balance while running. Having a strong core will also keep you more stable and in control if you have to navigate uneven surfaces.

                      The plank is a simple exercise and involved balancing on your forearms and the tips of your toes, so that your back is “straight as a plank”. You want to focus on keeping your abs tight and imagine sucking your belly button up into your spine to have them properly engaged.

                      Aim for 30 to 45 seconds for a few rounds. Ultimately, you want to hold them as long as you can with proper form – so every time you perform a plank you want to go a little longer than previous ones.

                      2. Side Planks

                      The same concept is applied but you are now engaging your core in a different manner and engaging your oblique muscles too. This time, you are going to lie on your side with your legs stacked on top of each other.

                      You will lean on your right forearm and lift your hips off the ground keeping your head lined up with your torso and ankles. Keep your other hand on your hip to help ,and control balance, and focus on not moving or swaying. Keep your abs tight to engage them and hold for 30-45 seconds, or longer if you can.

                      3. Clamshells

                      For this exercise, you are going to need a simple resistance band. Start with the band wrapped around both legs just below the knee. Your starting position will be on the ground lying on your side with your top hip and shoulder pointing towards the ceiling. Your hips will be on the ground, keep your back straight and your feet together, and lift up with your top knee as far as you can with the resistance.

                      Pause for a second at the top and lower back down under control. You can do 10 reps on this side before switching over and doing another 10 reps and aim for 2 to 3 sets.

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                      Clamshells are going to help strengthen your abductor muscles giving you stronger hips and more stability while running.

                      4. Single-Leg Bridge

                      You will start lying on your back with your feet on the ground, shoulder-width apart with knees bent. You will straighten out one leg so it’s out in front of you in the air and lift your body up by pushing with the leg on the ground.

                      You want to flex your abs and glutes while pushing upward and try to keep your hips level throughout the motion before returning to the ground. You can also hold your body in the upright position for 5-10 seconds before returning to the ground to get more engagement before switching over to the other leg.

                      The single-leg bridge will help strengthen your glutes which are crucial for running power and stride strength.

                      5. Standing Calf Raises

                      This is a simple exercise but one that is very important for strengthening the calves. The stronger they are, the less fatigue you will experience during running. You will need to find an elevated step or platform for this exercise.

                      Stand on the platform with your heels hanging off the edge. Find something stable to hold on to for balance and start by lower your heels down until you feel a stretch in the back of your calves. Then, stand upwards like you are trying to see over a fence. Perform 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

                      6. Arch Lifting

                      You will start out standing with your feet directly under your hips, and this is best done without shoes. You will rotate the arch of your foot upward while keeping your toes and heels in contact with the ground.

                      Don’t let your toes tighten and you want to hold for a few seconds at the top before returning to the ground. You can do 3 sets of 10 repetitions and this is going to help strengthen the arches of your feet.

                      The stronger your arches are the better it is to keep your running stride strong and prevent less fatigue in the feet.

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                      7. Half-Kneel Hip Flexor Stretch

                      Strong hips are paramount for running and the hip flexors can easily become strained and overused. This exercise will help to strengthen them and provide more power and stability while running. You will start kneeling with one foot forward and the other knee bent underneath the hip.

                      Keep your abs tight, your back straight, and shift your body weight forward until you feel a stretch in the front of your hips. Hold this for 20 to 30 seconds before switching over to the other leg.

                      8. Alternating Lunges

                      These are going to develop power and strength in your quads and glutes to help give you a more powerful stride. You will start standing with your hands on your hips looking straight out in front of you.

                      Step forward with your right leg and lower down just before your opposite knee touches the ground. Then, push through your heel to return to the standing position before performing the lunge with your left leg. Alternate between the right and left leg so that each one has done 10 reps and you can perform 3 sets of this.

                      9. Jump Squats

                      These can be done just with your bodyweight and help to develop explosive power in the lower body. The jump squat is handy for when you have to run hills and need more power for harder stretches of your run.

                      The best way is to start in a squat position with your feet shoulder-width apart. You will drive through the heels of your feet and explode upwards. As your bodyweight brings you back to the ground, control your weight as you go back into the squat position to fully engage the muscles.

                      Make sure not to let your knees move inwards and keep your abs tight, your head up, and your chest out. Aim for 3 sets of 10 reps.

                      10. Skater Hops

                      This will help to build leg and core strength, along with improving balance. You will start standing upright but then bending the knees slight like you’re about to sit down. You will then drive off your right foot, jumping a few feet out to the left.

                      You will land on your left foot while your right foot swings behind your left leg. Then, drive off the left foot using the momentum of your right foot swinging back to land back on it. You will keep doing these side hops for ten times each leg and the motion should look like a speed skater shifting side to side.

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                      11. Bulgarian Split Squat

                      This will be similar to the lunges but, will really ramp up the resistance for the quads and is a great strength training exercise for runners. You are going to need an elevated surface or bench to stand in front of. The starting position will be standing upright with your head up and hands on your hips.

                      Start with your right foot behind you supported by the bench. You will start by lowering your hips to drops your left leg down to around a 90-degree angle, stopping just before your right knee hits the ground.

                      Next, push up through the heel until you are back at the starting position and perform ten reps, under control, before you switch over to the right leg. Perform 3 sets of this.

                      To make this even tougher, you can hold dumbbells in your hands hanging at your sides.

                      12. Arabesque

                      These will help in activating and controlling your hips. You will start off by standing on one leg, hands on your hips, and making sure your hips are level and balanced. You can then put your arms out to the side to give you more balance.

                      Start by tipping your torso forward as your non-weight-bearing leg extends out behind you. You can slightly bend your knee to help with control and you want to have your back and extended leg as level as possible. You should end up basically parallel to the floor with your shoulder, hip, and ankle should be in a straight line.

                      When you’ve gone as far forward as you can, return to the starting position and perform 8 repetitions before switching to the other leg.

                      Perform 2 to 3 sets. These are all about quality over quantity so if you can only do 4 or 5, that’s fine.

                      13. Hip Bridge

                      This is another great exercise to target the glutes which are the source of your running power. Start by lying on the ground with your feet flat on the ground and your knees bent. Squeeze your glutes and then lift your hips up towards the ceiling.

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                      Your hips, knees, and shoulders should be in a straight line. Hold at the top for a second and then lower back down under control. Perform this 12 times and then, you can do 3 sets. If these get easier, you can hold a weight across your stomach for more resistance.

                      14. Push-Ups

                      A classic exercise, and for good reason. As much as you want to focus your strength training on the lower body, you can’t neglect your upper body. Your arms are helping drive and propel you while running and a strong upper body helps with your overall balance and stability.

                      You can start laying facedown on the ground with your palms facing downwards and elbows tucked into your sides. Focus on pushing through the heel of your palms upward, stopping just before your elbows lock out. Lower back down under control and stop just before your chest touches the ground.

                      Focus on keeping the elbows tucked into your side and avoid having them flail outwards. You can perform 10 reps for 3 sets of these.

                      15. Squat to Overhead Press

                      This is a full-body motion that works a majority of muscles, builds power, explosiveness, and coordination. You will need two dumbbells and you will start standing, feet shoulder-width apart, with the dumbbells, held up by your shoulders – palms facing forward.

                      Send your hips back and lower down into a squat until your thighs are parallel to the floor. As you stand up, press the dumbbells overhead and return them to the starting position. Go for 10 reps and three sets.

                      The Bottom Line

                      As much as you’d like to, you can’t be running all the time. It can lead to overuse, injuries and burnout. The perfect way to offset this is with strength training, making sure you perform your training with proper form and technique, avoiding mistakes which can lead to injury.

                      There are many other strength exercises such as the deadlift, which works the back and leg muscles which are vital for running economy improvement and injury prevention.[2] These exercises will make you a more efficient and resilient runner allowing you to improve your distances and times.

                      Even if you’ve been against strength training for runners, you can see now how it’s necessary in order to improve your overall running ability and performance.

                      Featured photo credit: Stage 7 Photography via unsplash.com

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