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

 

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7 comments

  • Caz

    The links for finding how to do the exercises just go round in circles!

  • You don’t need to follow any links to find out how to do the exercises – you just need to stay on this page to see the instructions ( they begin after the section on “Handgrip exercise devices”).

    The other links go to posts which tell you more about how handgrip exercises affect blood pressure, and which review the different devices you can use to do handgrip exercises.

    I have simplified the links a bit though to make this clearer 🙂

  • Robert

    I have been researching this, and while many articles and studies repeat the same things, what they don’t do is help you figure out just how to grip at the right strength. Your suggestion, while appreciated, is just as vague and difficult to implement, no offense intended. I have one of those hand grip thingies. I am not especially weak, but on the lowest setting (“20 lbs”) my hand starts getting very tired after about 70-90 seconds. The idea of doing it for two minutes, without straining, is ridiculous at this point, and to be honest, the idea that I could hold it for 2 minutes at 30% strength even in the future after getting stronger seems unlikely. So, the question is: at the lowest setting, how long to hold it? These can be good exercises, and I want to do them, but there seems to be a line that if you cross it will make things worse instead of better. So, again, the question is, how to tell what that line is with those handgrippers? My *guess* is that the second you start “feeling it,” or, when you just start to feel your hand get tired, stop. But that seems like it might be more than 30%. Maybe see how long it takes to start getting tired (your hand, not you), and then half that amount? Again, I am having a very difficult time finding this kind of information anywhere, and yet it seems of utmost importance. Quite frustrating. I am hoping that maybe someone out there knows the answer to it, or can find the answer, since I seem to have so much trouble finding it….

  • Hi Robert,

    Hmmm… not sure we have the answer! As I mentioned above, some people suggest building up to it gradually. So follow the protocol (i.e, grip, rest, grip, rest and so on) but instead of doing 2-minute grip periods, start with shorter ones, even just 20 seconds or something. Then gradually build up the length of the gripping periods.

    The other option is to try the Zona Plus as it can calibrate itself to your grip strength and give you instructions based on that. The Zona Plus is expensive though! But I think they offer a refund period so you can try it without risk. I wrote a bit more about it here: https://highbloodpressurebegone.com/handgrip-exercises/

    Good luck with it all!

  • Hi there,I check your new stuff named “How to Do Hand Grip Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure” regularly.Your story-telling style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing! And you can look our website about proxy list.

  • Gary

    Do you recommend doing 1 hand at a time or do you need to do both hands at the same time?

  • As far as I can gather from reading the research, you do one hand at a time.

    Good luck with it, Alison

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