With all the go-go-go holiday fun, who has time for long workouts to keep blood pressure in check? Fortunately, these easy ways to lower your blood pressure don’t require much effort. Bonus: Research shows keeping your BP within a healthy range lowers the risk of serious COVID complications by 58 percent!
Try the TV trick.
When a commercial comes on, use it as a reminder to take six deep breaths. By the time you’re done, you’ll have lowered your systolic blood pressure (top number) by nearly 10 points, Japanese scientists say. A 30-second bout of slow breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which dilates vessels so blood f lows more freely. Practice throughout the day—say, while waiting for your coffee to brew— and you’ll train your body to keep BP in check permanently.
Hug a loved one!
Women who embrace loved ones regularly (pets count!) have a systolic BP up to 12 points lower than those who hug less often, a University of North Carolina study shows. Affection spurs oxytocin production, which calms the brain’s stress center.
Dig into more mashed potatoes.
The holiday staple is a BP hero! A new Purdue University study found that eating baked or boiled potatoes daily lowers systolic BP by six points in 16 days— better results than a potassium supplement. A unique combo of potassium and other nutrients helps the body excrete 33 percent more sodium than a supplement alone.
Cue mellow music
Playing 30 minutes of slow-tempo tunes daily as you putter around spurs a nearly nine-point drop in systolic BP in four weeks, reveals a new study in the Journal of Clinical Hypertension. Lulling songs slow activity in the brain’s limbic system, which curbs artery-tightening tension so blood vessels stay flexible.
Stretch in bed.
Canadian scientists found folks who did leg stretches five days a week saw a six-point drop in systolic BP in eight weeks, better than walkers in the same study. It reduces artery stiffness and increases circulation. Pull one knee toward your chest with the opposite leg extended, then switch.
A grueling work out doesn’t have to be the only way to stay healthy. We can find easy ways to lower our blood pressure in everyday tasks!
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.