Is there anything more relaxing than a hike alone or with a group of people who are close to you? There isn’t much, that’s for sure. Being out with nature and spending time exploring it is a relaxing and very beneficial form of exercise. In fact, it can even lower your blood pressure.
Hiking is a great way to improve both your mental and physical health, something we are set on demonstrating in this quick guide.
This is a guest post for highbloodpressurebegone.com by Gemma Tyler.
How Hiking Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
Hiking and Physical Health
Hiking is a form of cardio, especially when you are partaking in a brisk walk (around 3-4 miles per hour) through the wilderness. It gets all of your muscles working, and it can lower your blood pressure by up to 10 points – reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and strokes. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t out of breath when you are heading back either, because you have still worked your body hard.
Hiking downhill (such as on the way back) has also been shown to be twice as effective at removing blood sugars and improving your glucose tolerance when compared to uphill hikes. A hiker can easily burn 500 calories in an hour (or more), depending on the incline and the weight of their backpack , but either way, it is an impressive amount.
It doesn’t put as much pressure on your joints either due to the soft trails, and because it works a whole range of muscles, you are less likely to suffer from specific injuries from doing too much, particularly if you stretch afterwards.
Hiking and Mental Health
Hiking has been shown to alleviate stress and anxiety, while also helping the brain to produce more serotonin – leading to you feeling happier by the end of the hike. Being out with nature allows you to reconnect with the earth, something which many find exceedingly calming and also ensures that they return home with a clear and fresh mind.
Many studies have also found that it leads to enhanced creativity, especially when hikers unplug themselves from technology and the world while they are out. On their return, they are often better at creative problem solving and have more creative trains of thought. So, the next time you find yourself in need of inspiration, you might want to head out for a hike.
If you go with others, it can improve your relationship as well – regardless of whether you are friends, lovers, or family. It gives you time to spend together, with nothing to separate you so that you are able to talk, get to know each other more, and generally catch up. Socialising with those you love is known to boost your overall happiness levels.
Now that you have read this guide on how hiking can make you happier and healthier, perhaps you will start taking it up. A hike doesn’t have to be through mountains and forests, there are plenty of urban areas that offer shorter hikes that are still very beneficial. It’s the perfect way to get out there and start improving your life, and your health. You’ll be happy that you started.
About the Author
Gemma Tyler is a freelance writer and blogger. You can keep up to date by following Gemma on Twitter, Facebook & Pinterest.
If you are interested in more information on outdoor fun, such as camping and hiking then check out her Ultimate Info Guides for more details.
More Ways to Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally
Hiking can lower your blood pressure in two ways. Hiking lowers blood pressure directly through the beneficial effect of exercise on the cardiovascular system. But hiking can lower blood pressure through reducing your stress levels too. As Gemma points out, hiking makes you happier. With stress being a common cause of high blood pressure, being happier and more relaxed goes a long way to lowering your blood pressure.
As well as hiking, there are many other ways you can lower your blood pressure. There are loads of different kinds of activities to make you fitter and different ways to alleviate stress. What you eat and drink are also crucial. Just a few simple changes to your daily diet can have profound effects on your blood pressure.
If you’ve researched this a bit already, you’ll know that there’s a lot of information out there on lowering blood pressure naturally. However, to make it easy, we’ve put together a step-by-step guide:
As the (highly imaginative) title suggests, the guide is arranged into nine steps which you can follow at your own pace. Each step is easy to follow and gives clear guidance on the different aspects of lowering blood pressure naturally.
There are tips on different kinds of exercise to lower blood pressure. (Even gentle walking can help, and there’s also a blood pressure-lowering exercise that you can do on your sofa.)
There’s loads of info on good foods and drinks for lowering blood pressure, along with a few recipes.
And we outline a host of techniques to de-stress.
The guide is designed to be easy to follow and to help you live a healthier and happier life. Lowering your blood pressure doesn’t have to be about denial. There are enough tasty foods, refreshing drinks, enjoyable activities and relaxing practices to keep you going – with lower blood pressure – for a lifetime…
Can I really lower my blood pressure through exercise?
Yes. There’s now a lot of scientific research showing that doing more exercise lowers blood pressure. If you’re not very physically active, then gradually increasing your activity levels is vital to improving the health of your heart and circulatory system, and to lowering your blood pressure. Even if you’re already quite active, getting a bit more exercise can still help lower your blood pressure.
How to lower blood pressure through exercise
photo by Kula Rock on flickr.com
There are two main kinds of exercise which lower blood pressure. The first is aerobic exercise or ‘cardio’. This is what you usually think of as ‘exercise’ – physical activity that gets your heart and lungs working harder. In other words, exercise that gets your heart pumping and makes you a little out of breath.
There’s no avoiding it. You’re going to have to exert yourself if you want to lower blood pressure through exercise. It’s the proven way to get your heart fitter and your circulatory system more resilient. And to get your blood pressure down.
This is one of the few areas in which there’s a strong consensus among the medical community, health authorities and alternative health practitioners. They broadly agree that you need to get at least half an hour’s aerobic exercise most days to bring your blood pressure down this way. And to stave off potential related problems like heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
You don’t necessarily need to do this half-an-hour-a-day all at once though. You could get three ten-minute stints of exercise in, three times a day, for example. Even if you’re busy, that’s still do-able. Three ten-minute walks. A few jogs up and down the stairs to and from work, or your home. A bike-ride to the shops to get your milk and papers. A quick dance around the room before you go out the door or when you get in. Even a stint of gardening, or even cleaning. And sex is good exercise too.
What is exercise? Think flexibly!
The key thing here is that exercise doesn’t have to be EXERCISE. Exercise doesn’t have to involve getting into lycra and going to the gym or yoga studio. It doesn’t have to involve jogging or treadmills or weights or step classes (or whatever the latest fad is). Exercise can be things you have to do anyway, with a twist.
Getting more exercise through doing things you have to do anyway is by far the easiest way to get more exercise. Being realistic, how many of us are going to make time to start doing something totallly new? If you can, that’s brilliant. However, you’re more likely to stick with increased exercise if you can find a way to incorporate it into your daily routine.
Easy examples are walking to work instead of driving. Or walking up the stairs instead of taking the lift or elevator. (Read more here about how walking is actually an excellent way to reduce blood pressure.) You could cycle to the pub after work instead of driving (as long as you don’t drink so much you can’t cycle home). If you have to clean the house, do it more energetically. To loud music.
And if you’re really not going to get around to being more active on your own, then find a way to do it socially. If you live in Scotland or the Maritimes, find a good ceileidh and fling yourself around the room. If you’re in North America, get into square dancing. Or throw yourself into a moshpit. Go clubbing. Join the Ramblers or another hiking or biking group. Take dance lessons. You can find almost anything these days – tango, salsa, even pole dancing. Don’t just watch ‘Strictly’ – go and do it!
How does aerobic exercise lower blood pressure?
You can lower blood pressure through exercise very effectively because exercise affects blood pressure in several ways.
Physical benefits of exercise for blood pressure
Firstly, it strengthens your heart and lungs. This is vital to good health anyway, but especially important for healthy blood pressure. The stronger your heart is, the more efficiently it can pump blood with less force, and with lower blood pressure as a result.
Exercise also improves the way your body processes and regulates sugar – which is pretty crucial since too much sugar is a major factor in the increase in high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity in modern Western societies. (Read more here about sugar and blood pressure.)
Regular exercise also, obviously, helps you lose weight, which can also be vital for quite a lot of people in lowering their blood pressure. Being overweight on its own is likely to increase your blood pressure, and losing weight to reduce it.
Psychological benefits of exercise for blood pressure
Perhaps the biggest exercise benefit for many, these days, is that exercise helps reduce stress. Doing exercise helps ‘use up’ any stress hormones that are running around in your body, so it can help you mitigate episodes of stress. However, exercising regularly also helps you become more resilient to stress, so that you’re less prone to stress and less negatively affected by it when it does come.
This is for various reasons. However, the most well-understood one is that exercising causes the production and release of ‘happy hormones’. Exercise raises your levels of hormones like endorphins and serotonin which contribute to a postive mood, cheerfulness and a general sense of being well. All of which feeds back into your blood pressure. The more relaxed and at ease you are mentally, the lower your blood pressure is likely to be.
Lower blood pressure through exercise by doing it regularly
The reason we’ve emphasised incorporating exercise into your daily routines is not just because that’s the easiest way to get more exercise. It’s also because that’s the most effective way to keep getting exercise.
To really get the physical and psychological benefits of exercise you need to exercise regularly. This applies to both aerobic exercise and hand grip exercises. This way the benefits will not only be sustained but actually deepened. The key to lowering blood pressure through exercise is to do it regularly. A little bit of exercise often is better than a big stint very occasionally.
Lower blood pressure through exercise while sitting comfortably… really?
But what about the other way to lower blood pressure through exercise? Well, those of you who aren’t physically mobile or don’t like to be will like this one. You can lower blood pressure through exercise which doesn’t even require getting up from the sofa.
That’s right. Isometric handgrip exercises are now being shown to be very helpful for lowering blood pressure. And they do literally just involve gripping something with your hand on and off for about fifteen minutes.
One thing to note though is that handgrip exercises affect blood pressure in a different way to aerobic exercise. And only aerobic exercise works to increase the fitness of the heart and lower blood pressure that way. So handgrip exercises are not a subsitute for ‘normal’ aerobic exercise. They are a good supplement though. And of course, if you’re not able to be active in the usual ways, handgrip exercises are very useful.
As with aerobic exercise, the key to lower blood pressure through handgrip exercise is to do it regularly. At least five days a week.
PLEASE NOTE: Exercise can initially raise your blood pressure
Both types of exercise – aerobic and isometric – will initially raise your blood pressure somewhat, as you start doing them. However, the overall effect of doing these exercises regularly is to lower blood pressure. If you have extremely high blood pressure, then check with a doctor before doing more exercise than you usually do. (Just to make sure that this initial increase in blood pressure due to exercise won’t be problematic for you.)
My experience of lowering blood pressure through exercise
The only way to really see the benefits of exercise for your blood pressure is to try it for yourself. I’ve certainly found that it’s possible to lower blood pressure through exercise. And I was already quite active.
It helps that I live in Wales, a mountainous country with plenty of hiking opportunities. So I have been hiking up on the mountains a few times a week over the past couple of months.
This morning I took a hike up the mountain on the other side of the valley and ejoyed the sun and blustery wind. I noticed two things:
I don’t find it as tiring as a did, say, a month ago. My heart and lungs are adjusting to my new climbing hobby.
After getting back home and taking a 20 minute rest, I monitored my blood pressure, expecting it to be high after such exertion. To my pleasant surprise my blood pressure was quite low (for me).
It would seem that exercising my heart and lungs is contributing to lowering my blood pressure. OK, maybe that’s not shocking groundbreaking news, but I had always considered myself quite fit previously. Yet there’s clearly room for improvement! Continued hikes are now on the agenda. Another piece of the jigsaw.
What if I can’t lower blood pressure through exercise?
What if doing aerobic exercise, and even adding in handgrip exercise, isn’t enough to lower your blood pressure? Or it’s lowering it to some extent, but not enough? If that’s the case, then you probably need to look at your diet and/or your stress levels too.
Don’t stop exercising, because it is undeniably good for your blood pressure, not to mention your general health and mental well-being. But do think about what you’re eating and drinking. And if you’re prone to stress, then consider taking measures to reduce that. Meditation, yoga, and simple slow breathing exercises can be excellent for this.
This might seem a lot to take on. After all, there are a wide variety of foods and drinks out there so how do you know what’s best for your blood pressure? And are you seriously going to be able to reduce your stress levels with some breathing exercises? And how will you make the time for all this?
As the title (imaginatively!) suggests, the guide takes a holistic approach to lowering blood pressure. It covers what you’re eating and drinking, useful supplements you might want to take, different kinds of exercise you can do, and various approaches to relaxation and stress reduction.
To keep it simple, the guide is laid out in nine easy-to-follow steps. You just follow the advice for each step at your own pace. Take it a week at a time or a month at a time – whatever suits you. And you’ll be on your way to lower blood pressure and better health in general.
I should also mention that not only is the guide easy to follow but it’s also enjoyable to follow. Lowering your blood pressure doesn’t have to be a life of denial. As such, the guide includes lots of tasty food and drink suggestions, and useful tips and insights on lifestyle changes. Little things that – put together – can make a big difference. And you can still eat chocolate and drink wine (or beer or fine whisky).
Just click on the picture above for more information and/or to order it!
And all the best with lowering your blood pressure!
If you’ve heard any of the announcements from the various health authorities and heart associations around the world, you’ll be familiar with the refrain that exercise is good for your blood pressure.
But doesn’t that mean hard, sweaty, panting exercise? Does walking reduce blood pressure? Well, pumping it at a gym or jumping around at aerobics class can be great for fitness and lowering blood pressure. However, just going for a brisk walk, even a short one can really help lower high blood pressure. Read on for more details.
Does walking reduce blood pressure?
Well, actually, initially no! Doing any exercise slightly raises your blood pressure when you start doing it, including walking. However, walking regularly has a definite and proven effect of lowering blood pressure over the longer term. So, while one walk won’t make much difference, walking frequently will.
In fact, studies show that going for a well-paced walk most days can lower high blood pressure by up to 8/6 points (systolic/diastolic).
So does walking reduce blood pressure? Yes.
How does walking decrease blood pressure?
Walking decreases blood pressure in quite a few different ways.
Firstly, walking briskly gets your heart working harder which gradually makes it stronger and more efficient at pumping blood through your body, which means it can pump more blood with less force, resulting in lower blood pressure.
Walking reduces blood pressure also by improving the condition of your blood vessels. Plus, regular exercise like walking can lower blood pressure by improving the way your body processes sugar and fat, resulting in healthier cholesterol levels and better control of your blood sugar levels (which is crucial in lowering high blood pressure – see this post on sugar and blood pressure).
Connected with this, frequently walking will help you keep your weight under control, which is also instrumental in lowering high blood pressure.
All these benefits of walking for blood pressure feed back into each other, and also improve your general health, reducing your risk of heart disease and diabetes (amongst other things).
So these are some ways in which walking lowers blood pressure directly.
However, walking affects blood pressure indirectly too, through its effect on your mind and mood.
Other ways in which walking lowers blood pressure
Ever heard of the ‘high’ that athletes experience? This is due to exercise stimulating your body to produce certain brain chemicals, such as serotonin and endorphins, which make you feel gooooood. The good news is that you don’t have to run marathons to get their benefits. Going for a walk can boost your mood – not just while your walking but for a few hours afterwards, and walking regularly can increase your serotonin levels in the long-term too.
So how does that help lower blood pressure? Well, to put it simply, a better state of mind is associated with better blood pressure. Chronic anxiety and depression are associated with a greater tendency to develop high blood pressure (and anti-depressant drugs might also be a factor) and stress is well-known to be a major cause of high blood pressure for many people.
As well as keeping you more cheerful, regular walking can also improve your ability to deal with stress. This is because regular exercise fortifies your body and builds up your resilience to stress and, for most of us, lower stress levels means lower blood pressure.
These effects of walking for blood pressure reduction are the general mental effects of exercise – walking or cycling or whatever. But walking specifically is good for stress and clearing your mind. The regular paced motion has a calming effect on the mind and also gets things moving mentally and emotionally as well as physically.
Next time you’ve got a mental block on something or are feeling lethargic, go out for a short walk and see if you don’t find your ideas shifting and your mood lifting… and your blood pressure slowly going down….
Walking versus other forms of exercise for reducing blood pressure
Walking isn’t necessarily better than other forms of exercise for reducing blood pressure, like cycling or yoga or aerobics or tennis or dance…. However, one things about walking is that it’s simple, it’s free and it’s accessible.
As a Surgeon General of the US once said, “Walking is the biggest bang for our buck. Thirty minutes a day of walking will prevent many cases of diabetes, hypertension, and other chronic diseases. Walking is the simplest, easiest way for most people.”
Walking and blood pressure reduction: how to do it
So that’s all well and good. You know how walking lowers blood pressure, but how do you go about it? How much do you have to walk? How far? How fast?
Well, the more you can walk, the better for your blood pressure (as long as you’re not overdoing it). But what’s the minimum you can walk and still see blood pressure benefits?
As with any exercise for lower blood pressure, health authorities generally recommend at least half an hour a day for at least five days of the week. But research has shown that you can get the same benefits by breaking this up into smaller chunks – so three ten minute walks most days would do it.
As for the pace, you do want to get your heart and lungs working harder – this is vital – so crawling along is not going to do it for most people. A a good guideline is to attempt or imagine having a conversation while you walk. If you can speak easily and at length while you’re walking, then you need to step it up a bit. However if you’re really struggling for breath and words then maybe you’re pushing a little too hard. If you can exchange short phrases with someone then that’s about right.
Obviously you need to be able to judge for yourself what’s enough and what is too much. If you’re very inactive, then a very slow stroll might be plenty to start with. If you’re very fit, then an invigorating brisk walk is required. And while it’s good to get into a steady pace (for maximum physical and mental benefits), you can work up to this gradually – start slowly and gently then move faster once you’re warmed up. Stretch a bit before and after too, if it helps.
How to fit walking for lower blood pressure into your day
Being motivated enough to get out for a walk is one thing, but what if you’re struggling to find the time? One of the advantages of walking to reduce blood pressure is that it’s such a versatile activity.
Everyone’s day’s different but here are a few suggestions of opportunities to get walking to reduce blood pressure – times when you’ll get the maximum mental and physical benefits:
morning – try getting out for a quick walk first thing before or after breakfast to get your blood and brain moving for the day ahead
lunchtime – go for a short walk before or after you have your lunch – it’ll help clear your head and refresh you
mid-morning and mid-afternoon – these are times when we can often feel drowsy or lethargic, so a little walk then can help to re-energise you
after work / before your evening meal – walking home from work, or walking after work, is a great way to literally leave the day’s stresses behind; or if you spend your day at home, get out for a walk to refresh yourself
Instead, or as well, you can incorporate walking into the things you do already. So walk whenever possible during the things you do every day or adjust your daily routine slightly in order to include some walking. For example:
walk to the shops to get your groceries – if you usually drive to a big store, then see if there’s a local store near you that you can walk to to pick up your everday messages, milk, bread, the papers
walk to and from work – or if it’s too far to walk the whole way, then drive only part of the way; or if you get public transport, get on or off a stop or two early
park your car in the furthest corner of the parking lot from wherever you’re going
take the stairs not escalators or elevators
if it’s terrible weather, then walk around inside – a local museum or even a shopping mall
and if you already walk places, take the ‘scenic route’ – walk a longer way round and maybe discover something interesting along the way…
How walking reduces blood pressure – and what else you can do
As well as walking, there are myriad other activities that’ll help you get your blood pressure down to safe and healthy levels. And there are many many things you can eat and drink that’ll make a big difference too.
We’ve now compiled all our research and experience with lowering blood pressure into an easy-follow guide:
As the title suggests, there are nine steps, which you can follow at your own pace, and which give clear guidance on different aspects of lowering blood pressure naturally.
There are more tips on walking and blood pressure, as well as other kinds of exercise (including a kind that doesn’t involve even leaving the sofa), plus plenty of tips and recipes on food and drink, and a host of techniques to de-stress.
This step-by-step approach is designed to ensure your blood pressure gets lower and stays lower.
The guide is also designed to help you live a healthier and happier life. Lowering your blood pressure doesn’t have to be about denial. There are more than enough tasty foods, refreshing drinks, enjoyable activities and relaxing practices which reduce your blood pressure – and they’re covered here.
Just click on the pic for more information and/or to download a free sample.
There are several studies which now show that doing simple hand grip exercises can lower blood pressure. However, doing any old hand gripping exercises won’t necessarily work. You have to do them in a certain way for them to be effective in lower your blood pressure. So the question is how to do hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure?
Hand grip exercise devices
To do handgrip devices, you’ll need something to grip.
There’s a device developed specifically for doing hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure called the Zona Plus. It’s an excellent device and makes it easy to do hand grip exercises correctly and effectively.
However, the Zona Plus is not particularly cheap at $599 (about £450 or €533) – though as a reader of this website, you can currently get a $50 discount.
The Zona Plus discount will be applied automatically when you add the Zona Plus to your basket and go to the checkout. Alternatively you can enter this Zona Plus coupon code at the checkout: Simon
Note that the Zona Plus comes with a 90 day money-back guarantee – this means that you can try it risk-free. If it doesn’t work for you, you can return it and get your money back.
You could also use simple handgripper devices. These devices are designed to be used for building hand grip strength. However, you can use them to do blood pressure-lowering hand grip exercises instead. You can even just use a squeezable ball.
It’s debatable how effective it is to use these other devices. So I’ve reviewed and compared these different devices in another post. So click here if you want more information and links to order online: handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure (scroll down a bit to see the device reviews)
So find yourself something to grip and then follow the guidelines below to get started.
How to do hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure
1. Establish the correct grip strength
The main thing to keep in mind when doing hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure is that you don’t need to grip at your full strength. In fact gripping something too tightly for too long is just going to raise your blood pressure more.
So make sure whatever device you’re using isn’t too hard for you to squeeze. You don’t want to be forcing yourself into gripping too tightly. If you’re using handgrippers, then go for low- or moderate-resistance models.
You’re aiming to be gripping your device at about 30% of your full strength.
A good way to gauge this is to grip your device as hard as you can briefly, then try gripping it again at about a third of this intensity. This is the trickiest part of doing hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure. (It’s also the one part where the Zona Plus does have a clear advantage in that it can calibrate itself to your grip and tell you when you’re gripping at 30%).
Check your grip strength each time
You can do this grip check each time you start a set of hand grip exercises. Your grip-strength might vary slightly from day to day, or even through the day, depending on your energy levels or how you’ve been using your hands or various other factors. So establish this 30% grip at the start of each session. Then pay close attention throughout to make sure you’re keeping that level of grip.
If you decide to do the exercises with alternating hands (see below), then you need to gauge the 30% grip strength separately for each hand.
2. Follow the recommended schedule of grip and rest periods
Now you can get on with doing the exercises. If you’re using the Zona Plus, then it will guide you through the exercises.
If you’re using another device or object, the American Heart Association recommend following the protocols of the published studies on handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure.
The format used in most handgrip exercise studies is as follows:
squeeze/grip your chosen object for 2 minutes at a time, at about a third of your full strength
rest for a few minutes (most studies used 1 or 3 minute rest periods)
repeat this cycle 3 more times (for a total of 4 cycles) – this works out to about 15 minutes for one session
do a session like this 3 or 4 days a week.
Zona Plus instructions follow the same format (using 1 minute rest periods), however, Zona Plus recommends you do one session at least 5 days a week.
Some research suggests alternating hands for each cycle is best. This is also what the Zona Plus manufacturer recommends. This would mean 2 cycles per hand in total. (In other words, grip for 2 minutes with your right hand, rest, grip for 2 minutes with your left hand, rest, repeat).
Remember to maintain a constant grip strength during the squeezing period. It’s easy to start squeezing harder without realizing or for your grip to soften a bit over time, so try to keep an eye on this.
Build up to it gradually if necessary
At first it can be quite hard to maintain a grip for two minutes even at just a third of your full strength. You can work up to it gradually though. For example, start by gripping for periods of, say, 10 seconds at a time and do a session with these short grip periods. Increase the gripping period each day until you can do it for the full two minutes each time.
3. Keep doing them!
You need to do these hand grip exercises regularly to see any blood pressure-lowering effects. Do them at least 3 – 5 times a week.
Even them, it can take a couple of months of regularly doing the hand grip exercises to see a reduction in your blood pressure. And the benefits only continue as long as you are doing the hand grip exercises. So once you’ve started, don’t stop!
Are hand grip exercises safe for me to do?
For most people hand grip exercises are perfectly safe. There are a couple of exceptions though.
Firstly, if you have any trouble using your hands then hand grip exercises might be too difficult for you. For example, if you have arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome then you might struggle.
Secondly, if your blood pressure is very high then hand grip exercises may not be a good idea. This is because hand grip exercises work to reduce your resting blood pressure – i.e., your blood pressure when you’re not exercising. However, while you are doing hand grip exercises you often get a temporary spike in blood pressure. Once you’re finished the exercises this spike usually disappears within a few minutes. But if your blood pressure is very high this may be a little risky.
The American Heart Association recommends that “isometric exercise should be avoided among individuals with BP levels >180/110 mm Hg until their hypertension is better controlled.” (Hypertension journal, April 2013.) Be sure to speak to your doctor before doing hand grip exercises if you’re not sure if they’re safe for you.
Can hand grip exercises lower my blood pressure enough?
Studies suggest that if you do hand grip exercises accurately, then doing them regularly can make a noticeable difference to your blood pressure. However, they may not lower your blood pressure enough, depending on how your body responds and on how high your blood pressure is in the first place.
Lowering your blood pressure naturally to a significant degree usually depends on taking a broad approach. So, as well as doing hand grip exercises, you can use other methods to reduce your blood pressure. You can adjust some of the things you eat and drink. You can ractise techniques to relax more. And you can (literally) take steps to be more active.
This webpage is a companion to Step 5 of our book: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide
Step 5 discusses the importance of exercise for healthy blood pressure, with suggestions for different ways you can be more active in your daily life without needing to go to the gym or yoga classes (though those are great too). There are even some exercises to lower blood pressure which don’t require getting up from the sofa…!
If you’re interested in measuring your heart rate while exercising, see this American Heart Association article on how to measure your heart rate and how to use it to assess and manage your exercise activities:
You can also use hand-grippers. These come in different resistances – some are more difficult to squeeze than others – so pick one appropriate for your strength level. But remember, you only want to be squeezing at about a third of your full grip strength so you don’t need to be crunching something super-strong.
Reviews say these two handgrippers are quite easy to squeeze, so could be good to start with:
If there are other websites, resources or products you’ve found useful and you think would be useful to others, please email them to us and we’ll include them: simon [at] highbloodpressurebegone.com
NOTE: This page is designed to be a companion page to Step 5 of our guide, ‘Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally’. As such, it only contains supplementary resources rather than being a full discussion of activities which can improve your blood pressure.
For more information on exercises to lower blood pressure, you can further browse this website or, of course, buy the guide..!
ANOTHER NOTE: We’ve supplied Amazon links to those products that may be a little trickier to find, as Amazon is popular and convenient to use. However, Amazon aren’t known to be the most ethical company (we do not endorse them ourselves) so we recommend buying your healthy products in your local shops if you can!
You probably know that regular aerobic/cardio exercise is important for reducing high blood pressure.
Aerobic exercise is activity that gets your heart and lungs working harder, and it can be anything from walking to swimming, to raking up leaves or cleaning the floor.
But did you know you can also lower your blood pressure by just sitting around squeezing something for quarter of an hour a day?
Doing handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure could be the easiest way to lower your blood pressure that’s been discovered….
Isometric handgrip exercise
Isometric exercise involves using muscular force, but without movement, and some forms of isometric exercise have been found to have surprising benefits for blood pressure.
The main type studied is isometric handgrip exercise which basically involves gripping something with your hand, to contract the muscles in your arm, but without moving your arm itself.
This might not sound like much but it turns out that doing it regularly can lower your blood pressure over time.
This was discovered by accident in the 1970s, by a scientist working with US fighter pilots to help them deal with high G-forces when flying. He developed a device that they could squeeze with their hands, to temporarily raise their blood pressure just enough to stop them blacking out.
It worked, but then they found it had a great side-effect – it had lowered the blood pressure of those pilots who’d had high blood pressure (and who were doing this hand-squeezing exercise regularly).
*a range of devices for doing handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure are outlined below*
Benefits of handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure
Many studies have been done since then on the effects of doing isometric handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure, and a report published by the American Heart Association in April 2013 concluded that such handgrip exercises produce “significant reductions” in blood pressure.
In fact, recent reviews of isometric handgrip exercise studies show drops in blood pressure of 10%. It’s not completely clear to medical researchers how handgrip exercises lower blood pressure, but research suggests it works in at least three ways:
it balances your autonomic nervous system – which regulates all the things you don’t have to think about, including blood pressure
it improves the condition of your blood vessels, repairing any damage
it encourages your blood vessels to dilate, allowing freer blood flow
Isometric handgrip exercise affects blood pressure in a different way to aerobic exercise so it’s worth doing, even if you’re getting plenty aerobic exercise. Also, this handgrip exercise on its own has been shown to be effective at lowering blood pressure, so if you’re not able to be more active, it’s a great way to improve your blood pressure.
A big advantage of doing handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure is that it doesn’t take a lot of time. You only need to do it for about 12 minutes a day, several times a week, and you can do it pretty much anywhere – standing up, sitting down, watching TV….so it’s a small commitment for potentially impressive results.
Mind you, the effects take some time to manifest – it may take a month or two. So you need to keep doing it – you’ll continue to feel the benefits as long as you continue to do the exercises.
How to do handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure
Isometric handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure are pretty straightforward. They basically consist of squeezing or gripping something for 2 minutes at a time, at about a third of your full grip-strength, and doing this several times.
You need something to squeeze though, and there are a range of different devices that you can use for doing handgrip exercises, ranging from the very cheap to the very expensive.
Handgrip devices for lowering blood pressure
The Zona Plus
The Zona Plus (formerly called ‘CardioGrip’) is a more sophisticated version of the device originally used with the fighter pilots, and was developed by the same scientific team to focus specifically on lowering blood pressure.
It’s a portable computerised handheld device, with a screen which gives you instructions on how to do the handgrip exercises.
The advantage of the Zona Plus is that it calibrates itself to your grip strength, and then guides you through a series of squeezes, at exactly the right effort-level for you to get the maximum benefits for your blood pressure.
The disadvantage is that it costs $599 (about £450 or €540)… although they have offered a $50 discount to readers of this blog who want to try it.
You can do handgrip exercises using ordinary hand-grip strengtheners. These are usually in the form of spring-loaded handles which you have to squeeze together. You can also use a squeezy de-stress-ball, or any rubber ball really.
Here’s a sample of devices you can buy online which you can use to do IHG exercises.
Reviews of both of these handgrippers say they are quite easy to squeeze – so could be good to start with. Remember, you only need to be gripping something at a third of your full strength so you don’t want a device that’s too difficult for you to squeeze:
So: is it necessary – or best – to buy the Zona Plus? Or is it good enough to use something less expensive?
Advantages of the Zona Plus
The effectiveness of using the Zona Plus is well-documented
Many of the clinical studies showing the effectiveness of IHG exercise for lowering blood pressure have used the Zona Plus device. According to the makers of the Zona Plus, since it became commercially available, tens of thousands of people have used it, and 9 out of 10 users have lower blood pressure after 6-8 weeks of using it.
The Zona Plus is approved by the US FDA for improving cardiovascular health, and in the European Union and Canada it’s also officially endorsed as a clinically proven treatment for high blood pressure.
It’s easier to do handgrip exercises accurately using the Zona Plus
When doing handgrip exercises using other devices, it may be quite tricky to accurately gauge whether you’re gripping at 30% of your maximum grip, which is what’s recommended to give you the desired effects.
However, because the Zona Plus calibrates itself to your grip strength each time you use it, it guides you to grip at exactly the right strength to give you exactly the most effective intensity of exercise – enough to trigger the blood-pressure-reducing-effects but not too much strain on your body.
According to the Zona Plus manufacturers, it’s quite a narrow window between what’s not enough and what’s too much, so they say you can’t get the same effects by just squeezing a ball or handgripper….
The level of effort set by the Zona Plus is also designed to minimise the temporary blood pressure spike you get when doing IHG exercise.
Advantages of other devices
The main advantage of using other devices for handgrip exercise is that they cost a lot less. You can get squeezy stress ball or hand-grippers for under $30, or you can even just buy a cheap rubber ball from the Dollar Store or Pound Shop.
Some blood pressure sufferers have reported good results using these cheaper devices, on various internet forums and review websites. And at least one clinical study demonstrated a significant blood pressure-reducing effect using an inexpensive spring-loaded handgrip strengthener.
Whatever you try, remember that it can take up to a couple of months (occasionally longer) to really see the effects, so you have to stick with it and do the exercises regularly for them to work.
Safety of handgrip exercises
Handgrip exercises are safe to do for pretty much everyone. The main exceptions are if you have problems with your hands, like arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome, in which case you might find it too difficult to squeeze effectively.
The other exception may be if you have very high blood pressure. This is because handgrip exercise works to reduce your resting blood pressure – i.e., your blood pressure when you’re not exercising. However, you often get a temporary spike in blood pressure whilst doing the exercises. This usually resolves itself within a few minutes, but if your blood pressure is very high, this may be a little risky.
The American Heart Association recommends that “isometric exercise should be avoided among individuals with BP levels >180/110 mm Hg until their hypertension is better controlled.” (Hypertension journal, April 2013) If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of handgrip exercises for yourself, speak to your doctor before starting.
Will doing handgrip exercises be enough to lower my blood pressure?
Hand grip exercises don’t seem to work for everyone to lower blood pressure, but research suggests they do work for most. So there’s a good chance that doing handgrip exercises regularly can make a difference to your blood pressure. However, even so, they may or may not lower it enough. Everyone’s different, so give it a try.
However, if you find you need to get your blood pressure down further, don’t worry – there are a lot of other things you can do, such as eating more or less of certain things, being more active, practising relaxation techniques and getting a handle on any stress.
In fact, for lowering blood pressure naturally, it’s generally most effective to take a broad approach, so that everything works together to contribute to getting your body, and your blood pressure, into a healthier balance.
So where do you start? Well, to make it simple, we’ve put together an easy-to-follow guide:
As the title suggests, the guide is laid out into nine clear steps. Each step deals with different things you can do to lower your blood pressure:
the foods and drinks you need to get more of or avoid
how you can be more active in your day to day life without having to get into lycra and go to the gym (unless you want to, of course)
how to handle your stress levels and enjoy a more relaxing life
Each step sets out straightforward aims and action plans so that you know what to do and how to do it. And you can take each step at whatever pace suits you – making simple changes to your diet and daily routine as you go.
Perhaps most importantly, the guide shows you how to incorporate these changes into your life simply and easily – and enjoyably!
Lowering your blood pressure naturally doesn’t have to be difficult. And it’s difficult not to enjoy feeling healthier and happier and more relaxed!
Just click on the pic for more information (and you can also get a free sample to check out).
The Zona Plus discount should be applied automatically when you add the Zona Plus to your basket and go to the checkout. Alternatively you can enter this Zona Plus coupon code at the checkout: Simon
Note that the Zona Plus comes with a 90 day money-back guarantee – this means that you can try it risk-free. If it doesn’t work for you, you can return it and get your money back.
Zona Plus Reviews
So that’s the official line on the Zona Plus. But is the Zona Plus really that effective? Time to have a look at some Zona Plus reviews.
Medical Zona Plus Reviews
A growing number of clinical studies show that using the Zona Plus can improve the health of your heart and circulatory system, and lower your blood pressure at least as much as a blood pressure medication.
The most significant Zona Plus review was by the prestigious Harvard Medical School which assessed the Zona Plus shortly after it was launched. They gave it a glowing review in their Harvard Heart Letter report, stating that it “has been shown to lower blood pressure as much as a first-line anti-hypertensive drug.”
The Zona Plus is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as clinically proven to improve cardiovascular health, and in the European Union and Canada, the Zona Plus is also officially endorsed as a treatment for high blood pressure.
User reviews of the Zona Plus on amazon.com give it an average of 3.6 out of 5 stars, which is not bad. Basically, it seems to work for some people but not for everyone.
The other thing is that some people find it quite difficult to use initially, and the Zona website itself states that you can experience some soreness in your forearms when you first start using it. Though if you stick with it, most people get used to it. (Read the section below on safety if you’ve any concerns about your ability to use the Zona Plus.)
So there doesn’t seem to be much doubt that using the Zona Plus can be useful if you’ve got high blood pressure. But the Zona Plus is not cheap.
So for many people the real question is – is the Zona Plus cost effective?
Is the Zona Plus worth the money? (Zona Plus discount available)
The Zona Plus is currently sold by Zona Health for $599 (about £450 or €533), with free shipping in the continental United States.
The discount should be automatically applied when you add the Zona Plus to your basket and go to the checkout. Or you can enter this Zona Plus coupon code at the checkout: Simon
Note that the Zona Plus comes with a 90 day money-back guarantee – this means that you can try it risk-free. If it doesn’t work for you, you can return it and get your money back.
Also, there used to be a cheaper model available (the ‘Series 2’) for $299 which is no longer advertised. However, see the comment by the Zona Health CEO, Mark Young, beneath this post: he says you can still buy it directly from them.
So is this worth paying, even if there is a good chance it can bring your blood pressure down a few notches? Well, that depends on what else you’d be doing to lower your blood pressure.
If using the Zona Plus works for you, then it is probably cheaper than paying for expensive blood pressure medications in the long run, since it’s a one-off payment.
Can I do hand grip exercises without using the Zona Plus?
Basically, it’s easier to do hand grip exercises accurately and effectively using the Zona Plus, but if you’re careful, you should be able to get the same effects with a squeeze-ball or hand grip strengthening devices – and they are a small fraction of the cost of a Zona Plus.
Plus there’s all the other ways you can lower blood pressure naturally, through changes in what you eat and drink, relaxation techniques, and of course regular exercise.
So, if it works for you, then it may well be worth the money. And the Zona Plus makers do appear to give good customer service. They will refund or replace your product if there are any problems, and it does come with a guarantee.
You can buy it here: Zona.com – clicking this link automatically gives you a $50 discount (alternatively, enter the coupon code ‘Simon’ at the checkout to get the discount)
Using the Zona Plus – how it works
The Zona Plus looks a bit like an electric razor. It’s battery-powered and portable so you can take it and use it anywhere. It has a little screen which gives you instructions for you to follow, so it’s pretty straightforward to use.
Calibration and tracking
Basically, at the start of every session, you give it a short strong squeeze with each hand, and this calibrates the machine to your specific grip strength at that time. It then guides you through a series of squeezes, of a specific length and strength – about 30% of your full grip strength.
These squeezes are calibrated to give you exactly the right intensity of exercise – enough to trigger the blood-pressure-reducing-effects but not too much to strain or stress your body. Apparently it’s quite a narrow window between what’s not enough and what’s too much, so the Zona folks say you can’t get the same effects by just squeezing a ball or other handgrip device.
While you’re doing it, it tells you whether you’re on track and keeping up the right grip level etc. The newest model also allows you to store and track your results, on a computer or online.
Keep it up
You have to keep it up though. You can do your Zona Plus session at any time of day, but it’s important to do it at least 5 days a week. As with other types of exercise, the benefits only last as long as you keep doing it.
Bear in mind that the benefits aren’t apparent right away. The makers of the Zona Plus say that most people will see their blood pressure go down after 6-8 weeks of regular use, although for some people it may take 12 weeks. Zona Plus reviews online seem to bear this out.
It’s also good to prevent high blood pressure, so folk with borderline or ‘mild’ hypertension can benefit too.
Safety of using the Zona Plus
The Zona Plus is safe to use for pretty much everyone. The main exceptions are if you have problems with your hands, like arthritis, or carpal tunnel syndrome, in which case you might find it too difficult to use effectively.
If you have any doubt about whether you can use it, you can try this tip, suggested by a Zona Health representative: pick up a squeeze ball (or something similar) and try to squeeze it, at one third of your maximum strength, and hold this pressure for about two minutes. If this is too difficult, or aggravates your condition, then the Zona Plus might not be suitable for you.
They do offer a 90-day money-back guarantee though, so you can always try it, and then return it for a refund if you find it’s not working for you.
The other exception may be if you have very high blood pressure. If your blood pressure is over 180/110 mmHg, the American Heart Association recommend waiting until it’s more under control before starting isometric handgrip exercise. This is because you get a temporary blood pressure spike whilst doing the exercise. The Zona Plus is designed to minimize this. However, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your suitability for using the Zona Plus.
Will using the Zona Plus lower my blood pressure enough?
Everyone’s different, so for some, using the Zona Plus regularly might be enough to lower your blood pressure to a range you’re happy with. However, using the Zona Plus might not get your blood pressure down enough, especially if your blood pressure’s a lot higher than you’d like it to be.
If using the Zona Plus, or doing handgrip exercises with other devices, isn’t lowering your blood pressure enough, then you’ll want to consider doing other things as well.
The main things you can do to further lower your blood pressure naturally include:
changing your diet – getting more or less of certain foods and drinks
being more active – getting more exercise, in various ways
reducing your stress levels – being more relaxed and at ease
There’s a lot of information about all of these things online and offline, however it can be a bit confusing knowing where to start.
To make it easier, we’ve written a guide which covers all this clearly and simply:
As mentioned above, the guide covers everything you need to know and do to lower your blood pressure (without resorting to blood pressure-lowering drugs): what kinds of foods and drinks to get more of or avoid, what kind of exercises and activities are best for bringing your blood pressure down, and the different techniques and habits you can get into to become less stressed and more relaxed.
And in order to keep it simple, the guide breaks everything down into nine steps which you can follow at your own pace.
It sets out straightforward aims and action plans so that you know what to do and how to do it. Perhaps most importantly, it shows you how to incorporate these changes into your life simply and easily – and enjoyably!
Lowering your blood pressure naturally doesn’t have to be difficult. And it’s difficult not to enjoy feeling healthier and happier and more relaxed 🙂
Click on the pic for more information (you can also grab a free sample).
It’s been just over 5 months since I dispensed with high blood pressure medications (that weren’t working and had unpleasant side effects) and began exploring alternative cures.
Yesterday was a big milestone. For the first time ever my blood pressure was monitored below the much slated ideal of 120/80. After doing a slow breathing exercise for 15 minutes it came in as 116/79.
Of course I was suspicious at first as because my blood pressure is usually in the 125-135 / 85-95 range. Given that my parents both suffered from high blood pressure and my higher blood pressure is most likely ‘in the genes’. So I figured that’s about as good as it’ll get for me. So I took the reading again at it this time it came in at 111/ 76 – amazing!
Amazing when you consider I was consistently 190+/120+ only five months before, plagued by headaches, heart palpitations, and the end of my life seemed to be approaching rapidly. You could say I’ve come a long way.
So what’s the secret to my new found health and ‘normal’ blood pressure? Two things – Diet and Exercise.
Diet and Exercise to Lower Blood Pressure
A 30 minute walk up the hill behind my house that gets my lungs and heart working two or three times a week
Drinking water more often (I prefer it carbonated)
Having a bowl of oatmeal every morning
Supplementing my daily diet with 500mg Vitamin C, multi vitamin (including 100mg Magnesium), 600mg Calcium, Cod Liver Oil capsules (Omega 3), 30 drops of Hawthorn tincture
Virtually eliminating processed foods and just sticking with the basics
Apples, bananas, celery, onions, garlic, tomatoes, (among other things of course)
Cayenne powder, apple cider vinegar, and only the best extra vigin olive oil
Reduction in the amount of salt I consume – I now use the Celtic Sea Salt (Sel de Gurerande) naturally harvested from the coast of Brittanny, France (as they have done it for centuries)
Less red meat, more chicken and fish
Red wine and dark chocolate everyday
… and more nuts.
In a nutshell that’s about it. I now live a much healthier, relaxed and trouble-free life with optimal blood pressure as well. It’s more than I would have imagined 5 months ago but now there’s no turning back. My final curtains have receded well off into the distant future.
How to lower your blood pressure naturally – the book!
How did I know what to do and eat to lower my dangerously high blood pressure? I did a lot of research and reading, including Get Natural! by Kevin Riley, the best step-by-step guide to lowering blood pressure naturally.
Well that’s what has worked for me. Please leave a comment and tell us what’s worked for you.
Physical exercise is so important for your general state of well being as well as your blood pressure. There are really no substitutes for getting out there and getting your muscles moving, your heart pumping and your blood flowing through your veins.
The lack of physical exercise we get in this post-industrial world where machines do all the ‘work’ is a principle cause of our general poor health. And obesity and high blood pressure are some of the results. Plenty of research shows there’s a clear link between lack of exercise and high blood pressure.
Exercise and high blood pressure – some tips
It is better to do some exercise everyday than a lot of exercise now and then. Set up a regular schedule – at least a half an hour a day – where you get off your sofa and move.
I prefer to incorporate activities into my daily exercise so I get things done and feel a sense of achievement – as well as helping keep my blood pressure within acceptable ranges.
Last year I used to walk up the hill behind my house once a day to enjoy breath-taking views of the Bristol channel and the coast of Devonshire. The walk up was strenuous and really got my system working. My walk back down was relaxing in comparison and allowed my system to recuperate.
This year I’ve been concentrating on my backyard – getting all the brambles and ferns out with a pickax as well as building a drystone wall to keep the sheep out of my garden. I relegate one hour a day to this activity and it’s amazing how much I’ve achieved in such a short time.
Another sense of satisfaction is when I take my blood pressure. It is often below 120/80 these days. When you consider I was measuring 190+/115+ just a year ago, and prescription medications didn’t help, I’ve come along way.
Handgrip exercise and high blood pressure
I should add that even if you’re not able to be very active, there is now a kind of exercise you can do that will help lower your blood pressure without you even having to get off the couch.
Isometric handgrip exercises as they’re called have been well-researched in recent decades and just involve squeezing something in your hand for about 15 minutes a day. I’ve written more about it here so have a read: Handgrip exercises for lower blood pressure.
I should also point out that these are NOT a substitute for getting normal aerobic exercise – the kind which works your heart and lungs harder. Hand grip exercises affect your blood pressure in an entirely different way. However, both can help so it’s worth a shot in my opinion.
Other natural ways to reduce blood pressure
Of course exercise alone is not enough to reduce blood pressure. Diet and relaxation are also essential components of natural blood pressure reduction.
Diet includes supplements. Because the interest in reducing blood pressure has increased over the past few years a number of companies have been working hard to make available natural herbs and remedies that can help you get your BP down. Of course, not everybody needs them but for some stubborn blood pressure problems a natural boost in getting it down is just the ticket.
Beware however of getting conned by slick salesmen selling snake oil. Outrageous claims is often an indication of a con.
One natural supplement I have been getting positive feed back on is Alistrol. They have combined in a one-a-day pill four of the most powerful anti-hypertensive herbs. One fellow who has been taking it for over a month now has reported a 20 point drop in his blood systolic blood pressure. It’s hard to argue with numbers.
If you’ve got “stubborn blood pressure” you might want to check it out. Click the link below:
Although Alistrol will help you significantly lower your blood pressure I wouldn’t consider it as a substitute for a healthy lifestyle including good diet and exercise :-). Combine these together and you should achieve a healthy balance.
All the best,
Update: Lower your blood pressure naturally (for less cost)
My partner and I have now put together a guide to help you lower your blood pressure naturally without medications.
The guide contains simple and proven strategies for lowering your blood pressure and keeping it low through easy, effective and enjoyable changes in lifestyle.
Since there are many factors which affect your blood pressure, the best way to lower your blood pressure without drugs is to apply a broad approach, and the guide covers all causes and cures with natural home-based remedies.
These include exercise (with lots of tips for being more active in your everyday life), relaxation and stress reduction, and of course the many affordable natural foods and drinks that lower blood pressure.
To keep it simple, the guide is arranged in a series of 9 easy-to-follow steps.
These progressive steps are based on the principle that positive incremental change is always best in health matters.
Each chapter will take you further along the road of greater vigour and peace of mind (and a healthy blood pressure).
P.S. This guide shows you how to lower your blood pressure permanently and naturally without side-effects or complications.
Follow each step to get your blood pressure back in balance.
Choose between a wide range of delicious foods that reduce your blood pressure. Include a number of mental and physical exercises in your schedule for both relaxation and invigoration.
Following this guide will reduce, and in time, eliminate your need for blood pressure lowering medications.
This is a guide for good healthy living and will be beneficial for all – even if you don’t currently suffer from high blood pressure.
To download a sample of the guide to your computer right now click here and scroll to the bottom of the page for the download link.
Lower your blood pressure while remaining seated!
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