Lower Your Blood Pressure with Just 30 Seconds of This

You could lower your blood pressure significantly in 30 seconds if you just do this: breathe deeply.
In a study, that simple act helped lower the study participants' systolic blood pressure. In fact, the study participants only had to do it six times to see their systolic pressure dip as much as 10 mm Hg! Not too shabby for a few slow in-and-out breaths.

Blowing Off Steam
The study involved nearly 20,000 Japanese adults with either normal blood pressure or high blood pressure. Some of the study participants sat alone quietly doing a breathing exercise that involved taking six deep breaths over the course of 30 seconds. The rest just sat quietly doing nothing for the same amount of time. Both activities were good for the study participants' vitals. But afterward, the systolic blood pressure readings in the deep breathers had dropped much more dramatically than the people who merely sat quietly. 

Deep-Breathing Benefits
The overall blood pressure and pulse rates of both groups were healthier after the quiet time. So the real point here may be that calming activities of any kind are important for relaxing blood vessels and the heart. The researchers suspect that the blood pressure benefits of the two activities in the study were at least partially due to their calming effects on the sympathetic nervous system.  

Check out these blood-pressure-taming tricks:
  • Sip grape juice. 

  • Shop for your heart. 
 Use this blood-pressure-friendly grocery list to make shopping a breeze. The list is based on the principles of the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension), a proven hypertension-controlling approach to food that emphasizes fruits, veggies, and whole grains but also incorporates nuts, seeds, healthy fats, low-fat dairy, and lean protein sources.

  • Flex and squeeze.  
Try these easy in-your-chair exercises for more blood pressure improvements.
Reduce your blood pressure without getting out of your chair? It may be possible -- if you do a little squeezing while you sit.
Isometric exercises, the kind where you contract large muscles without actually moving the body part, may help reduce blood pressure in healthy people, a new study shows. And something as simple as squeezing your inner thigh muscles together while you sit would qualify.

A Dramatic Descent
That's right. Isometric exercises can be done anytime, anywhere, and they don't require you to bend or lift. In a handful of studies, folks with normal blood pressure who did three 15- to 20-minute sessions of isometric exercises every week for 10 weeks experienced more than a 10-point plunge in their systolic blood pressure. And their diastolic pressure fell almost 7 points. Not bad for not lifting a finger! Simple things like doing a static hand grip, flexing the butt muscles, or doing leg squeezes all count. In the research, the three weekly sessions included doing multiple 2-minute rounds of isometric clenches like those, with 1 to 3 minute rests in between.  

Not for People with High Blood Pressure
It's super important to note that people with high blood pressure need to speak with a doctor before beginning any exercise program -- but especially one involving isometric exercises. In people who have hypertension, isometric exercises could cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure.

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