Doctors often tell patients with high blood pressure to exercise more.
And they usually recommend an aerobic workout. The Mayo Clinic advises that the best types of exercise to lower blood pressure include jogging, bicycling, swimming, and dancing.1
A new study shows that another form of exercise works better.
Researchers at the Sir Gangaram Hospital in Delhi, India, studied 60 people with prehypertension. These are patients with slightly elevated blood pressure, or prehypertension. It is defined as a systolic reading (the upper number) of 120-139 or a diastolic reading (the lower number) of 80-89.
Most patients with prehypertension will go on to develop high blood pressure unless they make lifestyle changes or take a hypertension drug.2
Scientists divided the subjects into two groups. One made conventional lifestyle changes typically recommended to blood pressure patients. These included aerobic exercise, a low-salt diet, and smoking cessation.
The second group practiced yoga for an hour a day.
The diastolic pressure of the yoga group dropped 4.5 points. The group making conventional lifestyle changes, including aerobic exercise, did not show any significant change.
Dr. Ashutosh Angrish is a cardiologist at Sir Gangaram Hospital. He is lead author of the study. He said while the blood pressure decrease in yoga practitioners seems modest, it can make a big difference to heart health.
“Even a 2 mmHg decrease in diastolic blood pressure has the potential to decrease the risk of coronary heart disease,” Dr. Angrish said. “Our research suggests that patients with prehypertension should be advised to practice yoga.”3
Dr. Shirish Hiremath is president elect of the Cardiological Society of India. He notes that the new study confirms previous findings that yoga is effective against high blood pressure. “Yoga is a part of traditional Indian culture, and has shown clear benefit in cases of prehypertension,” he said.
Yoga Eases Stress to Fight Hypertension
The study did not reveal the mechanism through which yoga lowers blood pressure. But Dr. Agrish theorizes that the ancient form of exercise affects the sympathetic nervous system.
This is the part of the nervous system that governs the body’s “fight-or-flight” response. When we feel stress, the sympathetic nervous system stimulates the production of hormones that raise our blood pressure.4
People with high blood pressure may have an overactive sympathetic nervous system. Dr. Agrish says yoga reduces the fight-or-flight response and thereby reduces blood pressure.
Yoga instructor Marla Apt uses five specific yoga poses to help her students lower their blood pressure. They are downward-facing dog, standing forward bend, posterior stretch, plow, and bridge poses.
You can find instructions on how to do them here.
If you’re worried about high blood pressure, there’s something else you should know…
Something strange was happening to pilots training to fly F-16 fighter jets.
The ones who went into the program with elevated blood pressure were coming out a few weeks later with normal, healthy readings. They didn’t take any medications… Their diets stayed the same… And they didn’t make any changes to their exercise regimens.
Go HERE to discover their secret.