How to Do Hand Grip Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure

how to do hand grip exercises to lower blood pressureThere 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, Zona Plus is not cheap at $599 (about £450 or €533).

To save a bundle you could 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.

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?

3 exercises to lower blood pressure without having to get out of your chair - free reportFor 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.

For more easy exercises to lower blood pressure, click here to get our free report, 3 Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure (without having to get out of your chair).

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.

You’ll find a thorough overview of all the ways you can lower your blood pressure naturally in our book: Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

lower your blood pressure naturallySince there are so many things you can do to lower your blood pressure naturally, the problem often is knowing where to start.

To keep it simple, our guide outlines the various options in a straightforward way, and walks you through them in an easy-to-follow step-by-step manner.

Each step deals with different things you can do to lower your blood pressure:

  • the foods and drinks to get more of or avoid
  • how you can be more active in your day to day life
  • how to handle your stress levels and enjoy a more relaxing life

The guide also puts a strong emphasis on how to introduce beneficial changes to your life in a way that works for you. Then you can lower your blood pressure naturally and enjoy the process 🙂

Just click on the pic for more information and a free sample chapter.

 

Post by Alison (Photo credit: bottled_void from flickr.com)

How to do hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure: key references:

Beyond Medications and Diet: Alternative Approaches to Lowering Blood Pressure – A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association, Hypertension, April 2013

https://hyper.ahajournals.org/content/61/6/1360.long

 

Handgrip Exercises for Lower Blood Pressure

handgrip exercises for lower blood pressureYou 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

3 exercises to lower blood pressure without having to get out of your chair - free reportMany 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.

For more easy exercises to lower blood pressure, click here to get our free report, 3 Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure (without getting out of your chair).

 

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.

Click here for detailed instructions on how to do hand grip exercises to lower blood pressure

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 €533)!

Click here for our Zona Plus review.

Other handgrip exercise devices

handgrippersYou 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:

ZoN handgrips – about $8 (Amazon.com)

Ultimate Hand Grip Strengthener – £6.99 (Amazon.co.uk)

If you need something stronger, you can always try these… (they come in a range of different strengths):

Captains of Crush handgrippers – $19 – $28 (Amazon.com)

Captains of Crush handgrippers – £29 – £49 (Amazon.co.uk)

Or go for a good old squeeze ball. This one is recommended for IHG exercises by a member of our mailing list!

IronMind EGG squeezeball – $25.95 (Amazon.com)

IronMind EGG squeezeball (green) – £28.99 (Amazon.co.uk)

 

Zona Plus vs. other devices

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:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step 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

lower your blood pressure naturallyEach 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).

 

Zona Plus Review

Zona Plus Review and Discount The Zona Plus is a small computerised handheld device that is designed to help you lower your blood pressure by guiding you through sets of hand-grip exercises.

This type of exercise (often called isometric handgrip exercise) has been found to be very effective at lowering blood pressure.

Studies show doing these exercises using the Zona Plus can reduce high blood pressure by 10%, and the makers of Zona Plus say that 9 out of 10 users have lower blood pressure after 6-8 weeks using it.

And you only have to do it for 12 minutes a day, 5 times a week!

 

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

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?

3 exercises to lower blood pressure without having to get out of your chair - free reportThe Zona Plus is currently sold by Zona Health for $599 (about £450 or €533). (NOTE: There used to be a cheaper model which was only $299. However, this is no longer available to buy online.)

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 (though this won’t be an issue for folk in countries like Scotland and Wales where prescription medications are free).

But can you do hand grip exercises without shelling out for the Zona Plus? Yes you can. You can read more about these, and how they compare to the Zona Plus, here: handgrip exercise for lower blood pressure.

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.

It’s also worth mentioning that the Zona Plus is not a hugely complex piece of equipment, so what you are paying for is not the cost of producing it, but mostly just profit for the company. The reason it costs hundreds of dollars is because that’s what the company can get away with charging. As Zona Plus spokesperson has said, “To be very straightforward, we charge what we do because the free market supports our pricing.”

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, and will refund or replace your product if there are any problems, and it does come with a guarantee.

You can buy it on Amazon: Zona Plus (amazon.com)

But there are cheaper ways to lower your blood pressure!

For more easy exercises to lower your blood pressure read our free report, 3 Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure (without getting out of your chair). Just click on the pic above to download it.

 

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:

Lower Your Blood Pressure Naturally – The Complete 9 Step Guide

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.

lower your blood pressure naturallyAnd 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).

 

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.

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.

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 minimise this. However, speak to your doctor if you have any concerns about your suitability for using the Zona Plus.

And however you do it, good luck with lowering your blood pressure 🙂