If you’ve been watching your diet and exercising, but you still haven’t been able to get your blood pressure down, here’s good news: New research has uncovered additional options that could help you drop those stubborn numbers—and potentially even avoid medication.
In a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, researchers reviewed the data from over 1,000 studies on alternative blood pressure therapies that didn’t include drugs or dietary changes. “Some of the proven methods to lower blood pressure, like exercise and a low-salt diet, can be hard to follow. And there’s a lot of information—and misinformation—about non-drug alternatives.”
Here are some tipsIsometric hangrip exercises In other words, contracting your hand muscles in quick, short bursts, like when you squeeze a stress ball. But it’s not just about reducing stress. Instead, handgrip exercises “can directly improve the blood vessels’ ability to relax,” You can try two minutes of pulse-and-release squeezing, followed by a break of a few minutes, for 12 to 15 minutes, three times a week.
Slow, deep breathing In one study, participants practiced three or four 15-minute deep breathing sessions with a special machine called a RESPeRATE that uses a sensor to track your breathing pattern and guide you to breathe more slowly and rhythmically. The result: The mindful inhales and exhales positively affected the central nervous system by relaxing the blood vessels, making it easier for blood to flow and helping BP levels drop. Research hasn’t conclusively shown if deep breathing on your own can lower blood pressure or not. Still, it certainly can’t hurt—and could help. Try this 2-minute breathing exercise to relax anywhere.
Meditation Researchers aren’t exactly sure why, but they think meditation could reduce stress. That in turn helps balance your autonomic nervous system, which is responsible for helping your body maintain normal blood pressure. Transcendental meditation, where you repeat a sound or mantra with closed eyes, was shown to be particularly effective.