Reaching a healthy weight to improve your blood pressure and health

10.24.2022

Key Points/Takeaways

  • Maintaining a healthy weight is one strategy to improve your blood pressure.
  • Losing weight will improve your health and reduce your risk of other health problems too.
  • Staying active and eating balanced meals are two things you can do to start losing weight.

If you have excess weight, you are not alone. 73% of adults in the United States have overweight or obesity.

The impact of your weight on your blood pressure is complex. Diet, exercise, sodium in your diet, and other factors can impact both your weight and blood pressure.

If you are overweight or obese, losing weight can help you reach your blood pressure goals. Read on to learn more.

How does weight loss impact blood pressure?

Weight and blood pressure are related but we don’t know exactly how. Studies show that as your weight increases so does your blood pressure. If you are not at your goal weight, even small weight losses can decrease your blood pressure. Weight loss between 5 to 9 pounds can decrease your systolic blood pressure between 3 to 8 mmHg. Weight loss also has a positive impact on your overall health. It reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and certain cancers.

How to determine a healthy weight for you

Body Mass Index (BMI) and waist circumference are two ways to estimate your weight status. BMI is based on your height and weight. Waist circumference, measuring your waist, can help estimate if you have too much body fat. This can put you at risk for conditions like diabetes and heart disease.

The team at Marley Medical can help you with these calculations. If you’d like to do this on your own, check out this CDC site for a calculator and guides. There are a few instances where BMI isn’t the best way to assess your weight. If the number you calculate doesn’t make sense, check with your provider for more information.

After you know your current weight status, if you do need to lose weight, it’s important to do this slowly (1 to 2 pounds a week). It’s a journey to live a healthier lifestyle.

Things you can do to reach your goal weight

While losing weight isn’t easy, your team at Marley Medical can support you with health coaching and medical management. Before you start make sure to set realistic goals for yourself. Reflect on why you want to lose weight. Set some goals around staying active and eating healthy. Some standards for staying active include:

  • 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week (for example: 30 minutes, 5 days a week)
  • 2 strength, balance, and flexibility workouts each week.
  • Make sure you are working hard enough. Use the talk test. If you can talk easily, challenge yourself more by moving faster or adding more resistance.
  • Move each day. Take the stairs, consider meeting family and friends for an activity.

Eating healthy has many benefits. But if you’ve developed some poor habits over your lifetime it can be a difficult step to take.

Tracking your food for a few days (and longer) can be very helpful. You can use a pen and paper, or apps like MyFitnessPal or Lose It. Some people find it helpful to write down how they were feeling when they ate (i.e. tired, stressed, hungry). As you track your eating consider the following:

  • Make sure you are getting enough protein, fat, and fiber. This helps you feel full.
  • Pay attention to portion sizes. Make sure you’re eating enough of the foods you need to keep you healthy and make you feel satisfied.
  • Lower your sodium. For example, using the DASH diet will also likely help you to lower your blood pressure.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water and avoid sugary drinks. Studies show that drinking water may increase calories burned. Also, thirst can be confused with hunger.
  • Limit alcohol. Decreasing alcohol intake can help you lose weight, decrease your blood pressure, and reduces your risk of many cancers.

What you need to know

Losing weight is one of the best ways to treat high blood pressure. To get started, set reasonable goals that include diet and exercise. Be sure to start slowly and remember everything in moderation. Celebrate ‘small’ wins. Your Marley Medical team can work with you to help you achieve and maintain your weight loss goals.

References

  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Assessing Your Weight. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Body Mass Index: Considerations for Practitioners.
  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). Fact Sheets- Moderate Drinking - Alcohol.
  4. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Measuring physical activity intensity.
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). FastStats - Overweight Prevalence. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  6. Harsha, D. W., Bray, G. A. (2008). Weight Loss and Blood Pressure Control (Pro). Hypertension, 51(6), 1420–1425.
  7. How Much Should I Eat? Quantity and Quality. (n.d.). National Institute on Aging.
  8. Lose It! - Calorie counting made easy. (2019). Loseit.com.
  9. MyFitnessPal. (2022). My fitness pal.
  10. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute . (2019). DASH eating plan.

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