Top Five: lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure
Kevin Boreskie is a graduate student and 2018 3MT finalist. His lab studies high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
We asked Boreskie to share his ‘Top Five’ for this new UM Today column. Here are his Top Five lifestyle changes to lower your blood pressure.
1. Exercise: Typically, most guidelines currently recommend around an hour of moderate-intensity continuous exercise per week, but promising new research is also looking at doing short, short repeated bouts of hard exercise (high-intensity interval training) as well as strength training (isometric resistance training) to help lower blood pressure. Our lab’s study found that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) reduced blood pressure the same amount as moderate-intensity continuous exercise (MICE), but these reductions lasted for a longer period of time.
2. Make healthy diet choices: Research has developed what is known as the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension). This dietary approach suggests increasing intake of vegetables, fruit, low-fat dairy products, and reducing saturated fat, total fat and cholesterol intake. Additionally, greater reductions in sodium intake have been linked to greater reductions in blood pressure.
3. Quit smoking: Smoking can cause temporary increases in blood pressure. Quitting smoking can prevent these induced increases as well as reduced risk for cardiovascular disease and mortality.
4. Reduce stress: While additional research is needed in this area, ongoing stress can cause blood pressure to increase. Stress is also associated with unhealthy lifestyle factors that may in turn increase risk for hypertension, such as poor dietary intake and increased alcohol intake.
5. Limiting alcohol intake: Heavier alcohol intake has been associated with increased blood pressure and increased risk of developing hypertension. As with reducing stress, further research is needed in this area due to the confounding lifestyle variables that are commonly associated with increased alcohol intake.
While we have now developed effective pharmacological interventions for hypertension, lifestyle modification is seen as a first-line treatment for high blood pressure because of the wide-ranging benefits associated with these kinds of changes beyond just reducing blood pressure and their cost-effectiveness.
University of Manitoba graduate students are on an unprecedented path to innovation and discovery. Meet the new faces behind the research.