1. Go for power walks.
Hypertensive patients who went for fitness walks at a brisk pace lowered pressure by almost 8 mmHg over 6 mmHg, found the study. Exercise helps the heart use oxygen more efficiently, so it doesn't work as hard to pump blood.
Here's how to start walking when you have 50+ pounds to lose:Get a vigorous cardio workout of at least 30 minutes on most days of the week for low blood pressure. Try increasing speed or distance so you keep challenging your ticker.
2. Breathe deeply.
Slow breathing and meditative practices such as qigong, yoga, and tai chi decrease stress hormones, which elevate renin, a kidney enzyme that raises blood pressure. Try 5 minutes in the morning and at night for low blood pressure. Inhale deeply and expand your belly. Exhale and release all of your tension.
3. Pick potatoes.
Loading up on potassium-rich fruits and vegetables is an important part of any blood pressure-lowering program, says Linda Van Horn, PhD, RD, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Aim for 2,000 to 4,000 mg of potassium a day, she says.
4. Be salt smart.
Certain groups of people—the elderly, African Americans, and those with a family history of high blood pressure—are more likely than others to have blood pressure that's particularly salt (or sodium) sensitive. But because there's no way to tell whether any one individual is sodium sensitive, everyone should lower sodium intake, says Eva Obarzanek, PhD, a research nutritionist at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. How far? To 1,500 mg daily if you want low blood pressure. That's about half the average American intake, she says. (Half a teaspoon of salt contains about 1,200 mg of sodium.)