Hypertension is a silent killer. Indians are racially predisposed to cardiovascular disease, and the increasing burden of hypertension has only added to the problem. Economic constraints and the allure of additional benefits without adverse effects have made lifestyle modifications an attractive proposition in developing and developed countries alike. Blood pressure is a continuum and any increase above optimal confers additional independent risk of vascular disease, even in ranges previously considered normal. While antihypertensive agents have been used for those patients with blood pressure above the traditional cutoff, there has been increasing emphasis on the prevention and treatment of hypertension by non-pharmacological means, termed 'lifestyle modifications.' A MEDLINE search was done for relevant references with emphasis on original studies, randomized controlled trials and meta-analyses. Lifestyle modifications that effectively lower blood pressure are increased physical activity, weight loss, limited alcohol consumption, reduced sodium intake and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension diet. Lifestyle modification is recommended as initial therapy in stage 1 hypertension before initiation of drug therapy and as an adjunct to medication in persons already on drug therapy. In pre-hypertensives, it can reduce the incidence of hypertension and lower end-organ damage. It is emphasized that simple advice from physicians can have a positive influence on patients' motivation to make lifestyle changes.