High blood pressure affects as many 16 million people in the UK today. As it’s usually symptomless it often goes undetected and left untreated, it can lead to serious conditions like heart attacks and stroke. An increasing number of businesses are developing supportive working environments and promoting healthier lifestyles to keep themselves and their staff in business. Read our guide below and you’ll find out how a couple of small steps can make a big difference when it comes to looking after your blood pressure.
Introducing a few small changes to your workplace
- Start walking meetings – Not only do you keep yourself active, you’ll find meetings can be far more productive and engaging!
- Encourage competition – Walking is fantastic exercise for all levels of fitness so set up a weekly challenge amongst your team using a free smartphone Pedometer app and celebrate with those who hit their targets.
- Promote the use of bikes – Consider introducing the Cycle to Work scheme or negotiate a discount scheme with a local retailer and ensure you have bike racks available.
- Support national or local sports events to get your staff involved – There are an increasing number of activities which don’t require months of intensive training and are great for team building as well as raising money for charity, such as The Color Run and The British Heart Foundation Events.
- Develop your internal communications – Introduce a monthly health bulletin using our one of our ‘Top ten tips for reducing your blood pressure’ which are detailed below. Place posters in stairwells and start incorporating your health information into new starter packs, or simply talk to your team about ideas for health and fitness to encourage participation.
Share our top ten tips to reduce blood pressure Prevention is always better than cure, and while you can make changes within your business to help you and your staff to lead a healthy lifestyle, enabling them to take control of their heart health will be of benefit to them in the long term.
1. Add flavour, not salt Salt increases your blood pressure, so avoid adding it to your food, especially at the table. There are lots of other ways to add flavour in cooking – use a splash of red wine in stews and casseroles, sprinkle herbs, spices and a drizzle of honey on your roast vegetables, or add balsamic or rice vinegar to salads. Always check your food for salt content, especially in everyday items like cereal or bread.
2. Lose five pounds Weight is a big risk factor for developing high blood pressure. But losing just five pounds can make a big difference. Try swapping your frying pan for a grill when cooking meat, sprinkle dried fruit on your cereal instead of sugar, and have a glass of water instead of that sugary drink.
3. Be full of beans Eating potassium-rich foods like white beans, dark leafy greens, tuna, bananas and potatoes (with skin on) will help your kidneys get rid of excess fluid and sodium from your bloodstream, reducing your blood pressure.
4. Walk it off Taking regular exercise helps to lower your blood pressure and strengthen your heart. Walking, jogging, dancing, swimming or cycling are all good ways to get your recommended 30 minutes of exercise five times a week.
5. Take deep breaths Stress causes temporary spikes in your blood pressure, which is best avoided, especially if your pressure is high anyway. Try a few relaxation techniques, like deep breathing. Exercise and sleep are also great ways to reduce stress.
6. Get back to your roots While more studies are needed to confirm this, a recent British Heart Foundation study showed that drinking a cup of beetroot juice a day could reduce your blood pressure. Beetroot is high in nitrate, which widens the veins and arteries, helping the blood to flow.
7. Stick to just the limit Drinking too much alcohol can raise your blood pressure over time. But you don’t have to give up – sticking to the limit of up to 14 units for women and 21 units for men, in addition to taking an alcohol-free ‘mini-break’ for a couple of days midweek can be enough to reduce your health risks.
8. Don’t skip breakfast A new Harvard study suggests that having breakfast within one hour of getting up can help to lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and heart disease. The study identified that men who skip breakfast are more likely to gain weight, to develop diabetes, to have hypertension and to have high cholesterol. Try porridge with a banana sliced on top and you’ll be on your way to five-a-day before you even leave the house.
9. Get it checked If you don’t know your blood pressure, get it checked. It’s recommended that healthy adults aged over 40 should have their blood pressure checked at least once every five years. Your doctor can advise if you need any treatment or medication.
10. Stop smoking High blood pressure reduces blood flow through your body. Smoking makes this even worse by clogging up your arteries. As soon as you stop smoking, you’ll notice the health benefits, and your risk of heart disease drops dramatically within just one year.
Further Information There are a great number of resources which you can access for free to keep you informed about blood pressure, including;