Just about every person dealing with high blood pressure knows that exercise can help. But a fascinating study shows that one kind of workout can reduce hypertension near twice as much as prescription medications.
The research was presented at the European Society of Cardiology conference in Munich.
Scientists divided 60 volunteers with hypertension into groups. Some did simple yoga poses. Others did stretching, relaxation, or deep breathing exercises. They did the activity for 15 minutes a day for three months.
The Best Exercise to Lower Blood Pressure
The relaxation group had no reduction in blood pressure. The stretching group had a 4.5% average drop. The deep breathing group saw their numbers go down 7.1%.
The yoga group had the biggest blood pressure drop. Their blood pressure went down by an average 9.7%.
This means that a person with blood pressure of 140/90 at the beginning of the study would see their readings reduced by about 14/9, going to 126/81.
Two widely used medications, ACE inhibitors and angiotensin receptor blockers (ARBs), bring down blood pressure by an average of 8/5, according to a separate study.
In other words, just 15 minutes of yoga a day reduces blood pressure nearly twice as much as standard drugs.
Professor Ashok Pandey was the lead researcher. The yoga poses used in the study are simple and “don’t require a lot of flexibility and really anyone can do them,” he said.
Do This Yoga Pose to Lower Blood Pressure
The Downward-Facing Dog was the yoga pose used in the study described above. Here’s how to do it:
- Get on your hands and knees. Align your knees straight below your hips. Place your hands a bit forward of your shoulders. Have your index fingers parallel.
- Exhale as you lift your knees off the floor. Lift your pelvis up toward the ceiling. Slowly straighten your legs. Don’t lock your knees. Bring your body into the shape of an arrow, like a capital A (see photo above).
- Press down with equal force with your palms and heels. Draw your shoulder blades toward your tailbone. Adjust your arms so your inner arms face your thumbs.
- Draw your chest toward your thighs, which lengthens your spine.
- Align your ears with your upper arms. Your head should be relaxed, but don’t let it hang. Fix your gaze between your legs.
- Hold the pose for at least five slow breaths. You can go up to 100 breaths.
- End by exhaling and gently lowering your knees to the ground.
Repeat until you’ve done the pose for at least 15 minutes.
If you’re on blood pressure drugs, don’t stop taking them without talking to your doctor. But after doing yoga regularly, you may find that your blood pressure is reduced enough that your doctor will tell you that you can discontinue the meds.
Editor’s Note: There is a heart attack risk factor that is 10 times more dangerous than cholesterol. But mainstream doctors don’t test for it. And statins actually make it worse.