Earlier this week, I shared a couple of different approaches I use in my clinic to help patients lower their blood pressure…
But it occurred to me that I left out one of the easiest – and most effective – methods. I’m talking about a focused breathing technique that decreases your heart rate and dilates blood vessels, reducing overall blood pressure.
I’ve been recommending an ancient form of rhythmic breathing for almost two decades to help patients de-stress and lower blood pressure. And finally, a new study backs up what I’ve been saying.
The research was published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. It found that practicing a deep-breathing technique can improve vascular endothelial function – how well your arteries expand to increase blood flow – by 45%.
Researchers at the University of Colorado gathered 36 adults with hypertension. Half of them did what the study authors referred to as “strength training for your breathing muscles.” The others practiced a type of shallow placebo breathing.
After 6 weeks, the treatment group saw their systolic blood pressure – the top number – decrease by an average of nine points.
This drop equals what patients see using a prescription blood pressure medication… but without the dangerous side effects.
And it far exceeds the benefits you get from following the CDC’s moderate exercise guidelines of walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week.
The study authors also reported that participants who did the breathing exercise saw a dramatic decrease in inflammation and oxidative stress, both of which are risk factors for heart attacks.
The University of Colorado researchers had their study participants breathe through a device that provides resistance. They’re available online. Simply search for high-resistance inspiratory muscle strength training. But you certainly don’t need one…
I do a breathing exercise every morning. It’s the same type that our ancestors did. I first discovered it when I had the privilege of studying Ayurvedic medicine with traditional Master Healers in India.
It’s very effective. Modern science has proven our ancestors right. Did you know that these kinds of exercises can help you become as good as elite Special Forces soldiers and Olympic athletes in your ability to handle stressful situations? That’s powerful.
Breathe Deep To Dilate Arteries And Lower Blood Pressure
To start, simply find a comfortable spot, and control your breathing. Bring it back to deep breaths, in and out.
- First, empty your lungs until there’s no more air. Exhale completely. Force out every drop.
- Then inhale deeply for at least a slow count of 4. Fill your lungs until you can’t inhale anymore.
- Hold your breath for at least a slow count of 7. Anticipating the exhalation like this creates a calming and rebalancing effect.
- Now exhale for at least a slow count of 8. Empty your lungs fully, then push out any remaining air. This is the part we usually forget, but it’s the most crucial. As you exhale, you will feel yourself relax.
To Your Good Health,
Al Sears, MD, CNS