Natural Ways to Lower Blood Pressure [3 Easy Exercise Tips]


Are you looking for the natural ways to lower blood pressure? One of DoctorHere’s Registered Dietitian, Jong Min Lee, shares easy, evidence-based natural ways to lower your blood pressure.


What causes high blood pressure?

As your heart pumps blood through your arteries, pressure is created against your arterial walls. That’s what is measured when we take our blood pressure. You have probably heard your doctor telling you about your blood pressure level in two numbers, like 120 over 80. What does this mean?


There are two key numbers for your blood pressure: the “systolic” and the “diastolic.” The systolic blood pressure (SBP) measures the pressure placed on your arterial walls when your heart beats; the diastolic blood pressure (DBP) measures the pressure that takes place when your heart rests between beats. Pressure is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Normal blood pressure level is considered less than 120 (SBP) / 80 (DBP). When blood pressure is consistently higher, which means more pressure on your arterial walls, it is called “high blood pressure” and there are two stages:

  • Stage 1: SBP 130-139 / DBP 80-89

  • Stage 2: SBP 140 or higher / DBP 90 or higher


There are many causes that result in elevated blood pressure such as:

  • Older age (i.e. over 65)

  • Family history

  • Lack of physical activity

  • Lack of sleep or lack of quality of sleep

  • Increased sodium intake, and reduced fruits and vegetable intake

  • Being overweight and obese

  • Smoking

5 Natural ways to lower blood pressure


Therefore, elevated blood pressure can be naturally reversed by behavioral changes such as:

  • Regular physical activity

  • Sleeping at least 7-8 hours a day with good quality of sleep

  • Reducing sodium intake, and eating more fruits and vegetables

  • Losing weight

  • Quitting smoking


For this article, we will primarily focus on the need to move our bodies.


Here are a few hands-on, easy to practice, evidence-based natural ways to lower blood pressure:


1) Yoga & Stretching

Yoga, rooted in Indian philosophy, began as a spiritual practice, but is now geared toward improving physical and mental health. The benefits of yoga include stress management, improved balance, aiding of sleep, and fostering weight loss.


Practicing yoga may reduce blood pressure (SBP by 6 mmHg and DBP by up to 5 mmHg) and improve quality of life. [1]


Yoga at a gym may be ideal; however, it is not always easy to find the time and money to invest in a gym membership. Also, the gym’s class schedule may not always work for us. The good news is that practicing yoga at home still brings the same benefits: a study showed that with an instruction CD, practicing yoga for 15 minutes a day led to a decline in DBP of 4.4 mmHg after 12 weeks of intervention. [2] The 15 minutes were broken up as:


  • Left nostril breathing (11 min.): Deep breaths in and out through the left nostril while sitting or lying down, with the right nostril closed off with the right thumb or an earplug

  • Spinal flex (4 min.): Movement that alternates between flexing the spine forwards (arching) and relaxing the spine back in time with deep breaths, while sitting in a chair


Stretching also led to the benefit of reduced blood pressure, reduced arterial stiffness, and improved flexibility. In fact, when it comes to reducing blood pressure, the effectiveness of stretching is found to be similar to that of walking. According to recent studies, stretching programs reduced SBP by 3.9 and DBP by 2.7mmHg, while walking programs reduced SBP by 3.1 to 4.1mmHg and DBP by 1.5 to 1.8 mmHg.


  • A stretching program consists of 21 stretching exercises- including stretching the neck, shoulders, back, and hip. These exercises are to be done for a 30 second duration with 15 seconds of rest between, and fully done twice. [3]

Practical tips:

slow breathing exercises to lower blood pressure naturally


2) Slow-breathing exercise

When we are stressed, anxious, or suffer from insomnia, slow breathing helps because it activates your body’s parasympathetic nervous system, which will decrease your heart rate and dilate your blood vessels, and eventually lead to a reduction in your overall blood pressure.


Slow, deep breathing (6 breaths in 30 seconds) has been shown to reduce SBP by 3.4 to 3.9 mmHg. If slow-deep breathing techniques are used over weeks and months, there may be a long-term effect of blood pressure reduction. [4]


There is an over-the-counter guided slow breathing device you can purchase, but you can also simply perform a 4-7-8 breathing technique:


Practical tips:


There is an over-the-counter guided slow breathing device you can purchase, but you can also simply perform a 4-7-8 breathing technique:


3) Move more in your daily lives


For general health benefits, including reduced blood pressure, it is advised that adults should do at least 150 minutes (2 hours and 30 minutes) per week of moderate-intensity physical activity (e.g. brisk walking) or 75 minutes per week of vigorous physical activity (e.g. jogging, running), or a combination of those two. However, finding the time and committing to work out can be challenging in the midst of our busy lives. But the good news is that if we incorporate regular moving into our daily lives, we can achieve a reduction in our blood pressure! Here are some ways we can seek to move regularly:


  • Periodic walking: A recent study showed that when compared with 7 hours of sitting, 3 minutes of low-intensity physical activity (walking at a pace of 2 miles per hour) every 30 minutes, significantly lowered blood pressure. Instead of sitting all the time when working, using 6 minutes per hour to walk is a great idea. [5]

  • 7000 steps: Another study showed that people who moved at least 7000 steps reduced their risk of dying from all causes by 50-70 percent. 7000 steps is a worthy and feasible goal, which is now easy to track on your smartphone. You can look for various ways to increase your steps per day, such as walking more during your commute or on your lunch break. [6]

  • Using the stairs instead of the elevator: In a workplace study, 77 selected employees with an inactive lifestyle used the stairs instead of elevators for 12 weeks. Before this study, they were using stairs for 4.5 floors (combined ascending and descending) a day on average. During the intervention, their average use of stairs increased to 20.6 floors a day, which led to a significant decline in waist circumference, weight, fat mass, DBP, and LDL (bad) cholesterol, and also a significant increase in maximum aerobic capacity. Interestingly, at six months after the intervention, the employees’ use of stairs decreased to 7.2 floors a day, which was still higher than their use before the study. So this intervention became a habit for them, which increased their maximum aerobic capacity. [7]


As we have seen, it is important to start “moving”- even if it’s step-by-step. In addition to the ideas listed above, seek creative ways to increase your movement.


If you like dancing, try to dance more during TV commercials; if you like walking, try to walk more outside after dinner or on a sunny day. Slow, incremental steps can lead to tremendous benefits! Just start from wherever you’re at. DoctorHere is here for you to provide a personalized plan and monitor your progress to help you stay motivated each step of the way! If you would like to know more about DoctorHere, please visit here.


Reference

[1] Fu, J., Liu, Y., Zhang, L., Zhou, L., Li, D., Quan, H., … & Zhao, Y. (2020). Nonpharmacologic interventions for reducing blood pressure in adults with prehypertension to established hypertension.Journal of the American Heart Association, 9(19), e016804.

[2] Wolff, M., Sundquist, K., Larsson Lönn, S., & Midlöv, P. (2013). Impact of yoga on blood pressure and quality of life in patients with hypertension–a controlled trial in primary care, matched for systolic blood pressure.BMC cardiovascular disorders, 13(1), 1-9.

[3] Ko, J., Deprez, D., Shaw, K., Alcorn, J., Hadjistavropoulos, T., Tomczak, C., … & Chilibeck, P. D. (2020). Stretching is Superior to Brisk Walking for Reducing Blood Pressure in People With High–Normal Blood Pressure or Stage I Hypertension. Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 18(1), 21-28.

[4] Brook, R. D., Appel, L. J., Rubenfire, M., Ogedegbe, G., Bisognano, J. D., Elliott, W. J., … & Rajagopalan, S. (2013). Beyond medications and diet: alternative approaches to lowering blood pressure: a scientific statement from the American Heart Association. Hypertension, 61(6), 1360-1383.

[5] Dempsey, P. C., Sacre, J. W., Larsen, R. N., Straznicky, N. E., Sethi, P., Cohen, N. D., … & Dunstan, D. W. (2016). Interrupting prolonged sitting with brief bouts of light walking or simple resistance activities reduces resting blood pressure and plasma noradrenaline in type 2 diabetes. Journal of hypertension, 34(12), 2376-2382.

[6] Paluch, A. E., Gabriel, K. P., Fulton, J. E., Lewis, C. E., Schreiner, P. J., Sternfeld, B., … & Carnethon, M. R. (2021). Steps per day and all-cause mortality in middle-aged adults in the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. JAMA network open, 4(9), e2124516-e2124516.

[7] Meyer, P., Kayser, B., Kossovsky, M. P., Sigaud, P., Carballo, D., Keller, P. F., … & Mach, F. (2010). Stairs instead of elevators at workplace: cardioprotective effects of a pragmatic intervention. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 17(5), 569-575.



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