Losing just 5 to 10% of your body weight can make a big difference to your blood pressure if you are overweight.
If you are overweight by more than a few pounds, chances are you have hypertension (or high blood pressure) even if you don’t know it. High blood pressure is pretty much a “symptomless” disease and you usually don’t know you have it until you get a reading done by a doctor or nurse.
It’s important to get regular checks especially if you’re overweight because (left untreated) hypertension affects your heart and your arteries, increasing your risk of heart attack and stroke.
What is the link between weight and high blood pressure?
The two are linked because every part of your body needs a blood supply including any excess fat you are carrying. In fact, every extra pound of fat you have increases the total length of the small blood vessels in your body by about a mile. And the longer network of vessels means your heart has to pump harder to send the blood around your body – increasing blood pressure with every pound you carry.
But the good news is that these changes are reversible. Just as blood pressure tends to increase as you gain weight, losing weight reduces it. Sometimes the changes are dramatic.
Research has shown that, if you are overweight, losing 10kg (about 22lbs) can lower your systolic blood pressure level by up to 10mmgH – a figure that would not be a poor result for many of the blood pressure medications currently available. And it could certainly help you if you and your doctor are aiming to reduce the amount of medication you take.
The best way to lose weight is to gradually change your diet for a healthier one and slowly increase the amount of exercise you take. The weight loss programs which fail most are those which try to get you to change your whole lifestyle overnight. That is just not sustainable for most people.
By introducing more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, cutting down on junk food, reducing portion sizes and becoming a bit more active you will give yourself the best possible chance to succeed. A healthier diet and exercise not only leads to welcome weight loss but will also help reduce your blood pressure in other ways.
Why not take a look at 30 Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally for more ideas on losing weight to reduce blood pressure?