For Disney Cast Members, employees and your families, high blood pressure can put you at a higher risk for heart attack, stroke, and kidney failure. Many people with high blood pressure don’t know they have a problem until one of these things happen. Have your blood pressure checked, and if the top number is higher than 139 or the bottom number is higher than 89, see your physician.
Fortunately, you can lower your blood pressure and your risk for these conditions with easy, stress-free techniques to improve your blood pressure — and you don’t even have to hit the gym or switch to a strict diet. Here’s how:
Add More Movement to Your Day
The American Heart Association recommends every adult participate in 150 minutes of moderate physical activity every week for better cardiovascular health. Moderate exercise, like walking or swimming, means getting your heart rate up high enough that you can still talk with someone, but singing may be a bit hard to do.
If finding the time in your day to exercise is a challenge (as it is for most of us), you may be relieved to know that you don’t have to do the 150 minutes all at once; you can break it up into small chunks spread throughout your week.
Sneak in more movement by:
- Taking a walk on your lunch break
- Taking the stairs instead of the elevator
- Walking instead of driving when possible or not parking at the closest spot
- Walking the dog instead of letting it out in the yard
Even these small bits of activity can add up to your 150 minutes of physical activity each week if you keep at it.
Eat Less Salt
Sodium causes your body to hold onto extra fluid, which increases your blood pressure. By eating less salt, you can maintain the right balance of fluid in your body for a healthy blood pressure.
Some techniques to reduce salt intake include:
- Avoiding highly processed foods
- Buying reduced-sodium products
- Reducing the salt in your recipes
- Replacing salt with herbs and spices
- Rinsing canned foods (which are typically higher in sodium)
Your goal should be to take in less than 2300 mg of salt each day (and less than 1500 mg each day if you have hypertension).
Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables have many benefits for your heart health. Many of them, like bananas, avocados and leafy greens, contain potassium. Adequate potassium intake helps relax blood vessels and counteracts the effects of salt.
It can be easy to add more fresh or frozen fruits and vegetables to your day. You can:
- Add vegetables to soups or pastas
- Eat a fruit or vegetable as an afternoon snack
- Enjoy salad before lunch or dinner
- Have a vegetable side dish with meals
- Have a fruit with breakfast or as dessert
Add one new serving to your day at a time so you don’t feel overwhelmed by changes to your diet.
While sleep doesn’t seem like a top-of-mind solution for lowering your blood pressure, it’s actually a very important way for your body to refresh itself. People who are sleep-deprived have a higher risk of high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes — all of which affect your heart health.
about recommendations for sleep for every stage of life, as well as tips for improving your sleep quality. If you have been told you snore loudly or gasp at night, please see your personal physician.
See Your Primary Care Physician
Your primary care physician can help you monitor your blood pressure and identify which strategies for improving heart health are right for you. They can offer guidance on your diet, exercise routine, weight loss goals and sleep quality — as well as connect you with valuable programs like smoking cessation classes. All of these efforts can help lower your blood pressure and allow you to live your best life.
If you don’t have a personal physician yet, contact the Member Experience Center at 855-747-7476 to connect you to one!