Did you know that the best way to prevent and treat spiked and fluctuating blood pressure is not anti-hypertensive medication, but a consistent and controlled exposure to physical stress AKA exercise?
We all know that a healthy heart requires regular exercise, but jumping jacks may not be for everyone. For those who cannot subject themselves to the rigor of a gym there is more passive approach that lowers spiked blood pressure.
How to lower spiked blood pressure in two months
The approach I am going to introduce here does not lower spiked blood pressure as quickly as the breathing method I described before, but surely can reduce BP numbers for individuals who are willing to put in two- to three-month commitment.
Despite being “lazy” this technique far surpasses other blood pressure reducing methods, including various types of exercise.
The study describing the technique was published in J Hum Hypertens in 2010. The results stunned the medical community. Who would have guessed that simple hand squeezes can calm down fluctuating blood pressure more than aerobic or weight training exercise?
Since weak grip strength is a marker for diabetes and hypertension[i], strengthening it should bring improvement in the two diseases. That was a theoretical conclusion till the practice of grip strengthening underwent scrutiny.
Fluctuating blood pressure be gone
The shocker came when the three-month trial of grip squeezes was at least twice as effective as aerobic exercise.[ii] Here are the details. While previous studies showed that aerobic training could reduce both numbers by up to 7 points, the grip strength study showed that a few weeks of pumping fists could slash the numbers by 10 points.
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Other studies confirmed the above findings, suggesting that grip strengthening exercises can lower systolic by 10-14 mmHg and diastolic by 6-8 mmHg in just two months. What’s more interesting is the fact that full body resistance training did not even come close to hand exercises. Weight lifting could only reduce the top and bottom numbers by 1-2 mmHg and 2-3 mmHg respectively.
Stress, relaxation and spiked blood pressure
How can that even be possible. How could making fists improve the heart function and lower spiked blood pressure? Although theories abound I have one of my own.
Most spiked blood pressure does not happen due to a failing heart, but due to over-excited nervous system. It is well accepted that stress increases the numbers and relaxation lowers them. Thus any improvements to stress coping abilities should also improve cardiovascular health. It’s that simple.
Grip strengthening exercises are beneficial to the heart, because they calm the nerves down. They decrease sympathetic activity, which fuels hypertension. They do it by activating the vagus nerve, which controls heart relaxation.
Does it make sense to clench your fists under stress? It does. According to the research above, an angry fist has natural pacifier properties. Use it wisely.
How to un-fluctuate your blood pressure
What’s the best way to do grip exercises? Easy. First get a dynamometer, a small device that measures grip strength. But don’t just get anything. Get the one that would seamlessly and accurately assist you in getting the results.
Once you unpack your new toy, test your maximum grip strength. Squeeze the dynamometer as hard as you can and read the numbers. This is your maximum. Your training grips won’t be that much. You will keep them at 1/3 of your best.
The actual exercise is easy. All you need to do is keep squeezing the dynamometer for two minutes straight. You are not to do any pumping but to keep your grip steady at 30% of your maximum. Switch hands, repeat and do the squeeze cycle four more times. Mark your calendar to fit in the regimen three times per week. Continue for two to three months after which time you can knock at your doctor’s door and ask for prescription reduction.
Better than pill for spiked blood pressure?
Why would you bother to do some silly hand clenches while a BP pill would do? Simple, because daily BP pills do not translate to anything more than lowering blood pressure while these silly pumps do. They reduce your risk not only for heart disease, but also for diabetes, obesity, risk of falls, cataract, kidney disease, obstructive lung disease, hyperthyroid, and even anxiety.[iii]
Once you know the method you shouldn’t try to weasel yourself out of the grip training. If you can sit and watch TV then you can also sit and hold your grip. Imagine the benefits of being consistent. If you reduce either of your BP numbers by 2 points you lower you risk of stroke by 14%-17%, and the risk of coronary artery disease by 6%-9%.[iv] Keep on going and it may turn out that your fluctuating blood pressure may be the thing of the past.
For an expert advice on how to deal with spikes and dips, get your copy of The Ultimate Guide to Low & Fluctuating Blood Pressure.