High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease, stroke, kidney failure and metabolic syndrome. When it can’t be controlled through diet and exercise, most people turn to pharmaceutical drugs. Fortunately, there are some science-backed complementary therapies that can help get you back in the normal range. Here are six ways you can lower your blood pressure and enjoy yourself at the same time.
Listen to music
Listening to soothing music for a half hour each day could have a positive impact on your blood pressure. A study presented at a meeting of the American Society of Hypertension investigated the effects of music on adults who were taking medication to control their blood pressure. Participants listened to 30 minutes a day of classical, Celtic or raga music while practicing abdominal breathing exercises. A control group made no changes in their routine. After one month, the music listeners had significant reductions in systolic blood pressure. Researchers recommend that patients and physicians explore music as a non-pharmacological treatment option for hypertension.
Basking in the sun’s UV rays can lower blood pressure for an hour after exposure. Sunlight converts nitrate stored in the skin into nitric oxide. This compound expands the blood vessels, improving circulation. Dermatologists at the University of Edinburgh tracked the blood pressure of volunteers under UV and heat lamps. Blood pressure dropped significantly in sessions where participants were exposed to UV rays, but heat lamp sessions had no effect. The researchers suspect that the benefits of sunlight to heart health could outweigh the risk of skin cancer.
Hug your partner
Supportive physical contact among couples can lower stress and blood pressure. In a study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine, researchers invited 20 married couples to participate in a four-week program promoting physical and emotional closeness. A control group of 14 couples did not attend the program. All participants wore 24 hour blood pressure monitors and had their saliva tested for stress markers. They also completed questionnaires about how often they held hands, hugged, kissed or showed affection. Couples who attended the warm touch program had raised