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Lifestyles

When I was younger I used to watch ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous’ when I got home after school. Now, whenever I hear someone talk about ‘lifestyles,’ I can’t help but hear the nasal voice of Robin Leach, the show’s British host, narrating the message.

That TV show aired from the mid 1980’s to mid 1990’s, what now seems like eons ago. It’s a new century, and nowadays we are likely to hear as much about leading ‘healthy lifestyles’ as we are about the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

As part of a healthy lifestyle, we are often advised to cut back on our salt intake. This recommendation is primarily made to help people to keep their blood pressure within a healthy range (less than 120/80 mm Hg).

We hear a lot about salt contributing to high blood pressure and the need to decrease the amount of salt in our meals.  The other day, while reading a magazine, I was reminded that there are many lifestyle factors that have been shown to be effective at preventing and managing high blood pressure.

Here they are:

Lifestyle Changes Recommendation Approximate Reduction in
Systolic Blood Pressure**
Lose excess body weight Maintain a healthy body weight 5 to 20 points (for about every 20 lbs of excess weight reduced)
Follow the DASH Diet (similar to Canada’s Food Guide) Eat meals that are rich in fruits, vegetables and low fat dairy products with a reduced amount of saturated and total fat. 8-14 points
Lower your sodium intake Get no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium (aim for 1,500 mg) 2 to 8 points
Get active
(call the Physical Activity Line (PAL) for more information)
Get at least 30 minutes of aerobic activity (e.g. walking, swimming, cycling) on most days 4 to 9 points
Limit alcohol Have no more than: 2 standard drinks per day for men, or 1 for women 2 to 4 points

** the first number in a blood pressure reading, for example the 140 in 140/90 mm Hg

Adapted from The Seventh Report of the Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure

I like to imagine Robin Leach describing these healthy lifestyles. He is looking dapper, dressed in fine clothes and standing in front of a mansion. In his instantly recognizable voice he proclaims “Welcome to Lifestyles of the People Who Have Healthy Blood Pressure!” Then, in his gossipy way he draws us in by telling us who eats the most fabulous veggies, and who has been getting active on the court or fairway.

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