Drugs and diet aren’t the only ways to treat high blood pressure. Deep breathing, meditation, exercise, and even waxing your car can work just as well. The catch? It takes a lot of effort and perseverance to get your blood pressure under control without prescription drugs. Most guys can’t or won’t devote enough time to make it work.
The following drug-free high blood pressure treatments have been scientifically proven and can really pay off if you take the time to explore them. They may not be easy, but once you learn the techniques, you can use them anywhere and they’ll add years to your life.
Do your chores
You have no more excuses; now you’ll absolutely have to do the dishes. Researchers at Indiana University found that simple household chores can lower your blood pressure as much as some medications. The team, led by professor Janet Wallace, found that a few hours of “lifestyle physical activity” a day can drop systolic blood pressure by an average of about 13 points. That’s enough to yank most guys out of the “hypertensive” classification (anything higher than 140/90) and put them in a less worrisome category.
Washing your ride, mowing the lawn, running the vacuum or even doing the dishes can help. The key, says Wallace, is to burn at least 150 calories while you do your chores. But how do you know when you’ve spent enough calories? The subjects in Wallace’s study wore accelerometers to measure the amount of work they did. Luckily, you won’t have to wire yourself with any awkward contraptions; simple lifestyle changes can make a big difference. Don’t hire the neighbor’s kid to mow your lawn. Wash the Beemer yourself at home or at a pay ‘n’ spray. Run the vacuum more often and get that garden going. In short, stay active. Even a little extra work around the house can make a big difference.
Use your mind
We have a lot more control over our bodies than we think. Many autonomic body functions — such as pulse rate, temperature and blood pressure — can be controlled with a little concentration. This yogi-like feat is called “biofeedback” in scientific circles and it’s been proven to work wonders.
A recent study led by professor and registered nurse Carolyn B. Yucha at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas found that patients could drop their blood pressure by as much as 10 points by simply thinking about it. Patients with high and normal blood pressure were taught basic relaxation techniques and biofeedback. In a biofeedback session, patients monitor their pulse, blood pressure and temperature as they practice deep breathing. Through this monitoring, they learn how to affect their autonomic functions.
Yucha was able to determine which patients would benefit from biofeedback. She found that people with high blood pressure, low fingertip temperature and a tendency to react quickly or negatively to stressful situations reaped the most benefit from biofeedback. Unfortunately, she says, many doctors don’t prescribe biofeedback and health insurance companies don’t cover the technique. Additionally, many people simply don’t want to take the time to learn the techniques. “In my experience, MDs write prescriptions for antihypertensive drugs and most patients prefer to pop a pill than to invest the time to learn relaxation,” she says.
Give biofeedback a try. Many metropolitan areas harbor biofeedback centers that offer quick lessons. The classes aren’t free or cheap, but they aren’t as costly as hypertension.
Yogis don’t have high blood pressure; they are pillars of peace and pure relaxation. But they aren’t born that way; they work at it. With a little patience, you can use the same techniques they’ve developed over the ages to get your blood pressure under control.
Scientists at the Medical College of Georgia found that people who studied Transcendental Meditation had a 6.5% decrease in vasoconstriction when meditating. People who didn’t meditate, on the other hand, showed a 1.6% increase in vasoconstriction during a non-meditative relaxation session. Additionally, those who meditated on a regular basis had remarkably low blood pressure to begin with.
“For years we’ve known that long-term practitioners of Transcendental Meditation generally have lower blood pressure than others the same age,” says Vernon A. Barnes, PhD, lead researcher in the study.
They also found that middle-school children were able to lower their anxiety levels and blood pressure by meditating for 20 minutes a day. On average, the students in the study managed to knock 3.8 points off their systolic blood pressure readings.
How can you use meditation to treat your hypertension? It won’t take a trip to India or a change in faith. Simply sit in a calm place, close your eyes and breathe, say researchers. When thoughts pop into your head, notice them, but don’t react, and gently focus on your breathing. It’s that simple. For more advanced lessons, seek out a class at a local college or meditation center.
Tossing and turning at night? It may be raising your blood pressure. A study at Broussais Hospital in Paris found that poor sleep leads to hypertension. The researchers studied about 7,900 workers in Paris and found that those who had nightmares, tossed and turned, snored or woke frequently during the night had higher blood pressure than those who slept uninterruptedly.
Another study published in the medical journal Hypertension found that a dose of melatonin at bedtime can reduce nighttime blood pressure and improve sleep. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is thought to help with the body’s daily biological rhythms and sleep. For the last few years, it has been available as an over-the-counter supplement. However, because melatonin is naturally occurring, it can’t be patented, so drug companies and the FDA haven’t done long-term research on the supplement. Unfortunately, that makes claims about its effectiveness suspect.
A third study has also linked sleep quality with hypertension. Researchers at Columbia University found that people who get five hours or less of sleep a night are more likely to develop hypertension. In the study, about 4,800 people were tracked for 10 years. The researchers found that almost a quarter of the people who slept less than five hours developed hypertension, while only 12% of those who got seven or eight hours had elevated blood pressure.
This shouldn’t be news to anybody; a good night’s sleep has long been linked to good health. Still, many guys choose to ignore the obvious, forgoing a few hours of sleep for a few hours of TV. Others are simply too busy to hit the hay at a reasonable hour. The bottom line: Do whatever you can to get some rest at night. It’ll do a lot for your health and happiness.
Source: By Dustin Driver, AskMen