The lifestyle changes you need to make to banish high blood pressure over 50

Less sitting, more walking and getting back to nature can tank age-related high blood pressure and cholesterol levels

Older woman exercising in nature
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Unfortunately, high blood pressure and cholesterol are a problem lots of us are going to have to deal with at some point in our lives. As we age, our blood pressure naturally increases due to structural changes and stiffness that develops in our arteries. This can be a precursor for lots of different cardiovascular problems, such as heart disease, strokes, kidney diseases and vascular dementia. 

However, there's good news: if you've been spending too much time in your chair at home (even if it's one of our lumbar-supporting best office chairs), getting up and moving around more is the latest "prescription" for adults with overly high BP and cholesterol levels. 

The research comes from the American Heart Association and researchers from the University of Pittsburgh, which estimates 21% of US adults have systolic or high blood pressure, and 28% have worryingly high levels of cholesterol. 

Bethany Barone Gibbs, Ph.D, said: "The current American Heart Association guidelines for diagnosing high blood pressure and cholesterol recognise that otherwise healthy individuals with mildly or moderately elevated levels of these cardiovascular risk factors should actively attempt to reduce these risks. 

"In our world where physical activity is increasingly engineered out of our lives and the overwhelming default is to sit, the message is that we must be relentless in our pursuit to 'sit less and move more' throughout the day."

Weight loss

(Image credit: Unsplash)

Lifestyle changes to get rid of high blood pressure

Even though our blood pressure naturally goes up as we age, there are ways to turn back the clock. Physical activity is paramount, so make sure you get off your behind to move and stretch throughout the day. 

Instead of watching Netflix on the sofa when you get in from work, consider investing in a treadmill or exercise bike so you can walk or run while you wind down instead. Even walking at a steady pace for 30 minutes can help reduce blood pressure, helping you lose weight in the process. Our lists of the best treadmills and best exercise bikes have you covered if you're looking to pick one up for your living room.

Even better than walking is stretching. Not only does stretching lengthen our muscles, preventing them from getting shorter as we get older and maintaining a healthy range of motion, it's also fantastic for high blood pressure. One study found stretching lowered symptoms of hypertension in a group of women, with an average age of 61, more efficiently than dedicated walking. 

However, if you are walking, you have the opportunity to get out into nature. In a review of 140 studies, it was found living close to nature reduced the risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, premature death, stress and high blood pressure. This could be because nature reduces the body's production of cortisol, that fight-or-flight hormone that encourages out heart to beat faster and our bodies to store fat. Lace up your best shoes for walking and head out to explore, even if it's just the park for 10 minutes. 

Matt Evans
Matt Evans

Matt Evans is an experienced health and fitness journalist and Channel Editor at Fit&Well. He's previously written for titles like Men's Health and Red Bull, and covers all things exercise and nutrition on the Fit&Well website. 

Matt originally discovered exercise through martial arts: he holds a black belt in Karate and remains a keen kickboxer and runner. His top fitness tip? Stretch.