High blood pressure is something that concerns all of us. If left untreated, it can lead to serious health problems.
And we all have those times when our BP goes through the roof. Like sitting in traffic, standing in line at the DMV, and…well, you know what I mean.
And I’m sure you’ve heard a lot of helpful ways to lower your blood pressure, like meditation and yoga. And they’re terrific…
But I want to share a few other methods with you.
These aren’t quite as well-known…but they’ll deliver great results…and a lot of fun too!
1. Stare at Fish
When you visit a doctor or dentist’s office, have you noticed there’s often an aquarium in the waiting room?
It’s there for a good reason. A recent study from the National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth University, and the University of Exeter revealed…
Staring at swimming fish lowers blood pressure and reduces heart rate.1
It’s so relaxing, they found even looking at a tank with no fish – just rocks and seaweed – still lowered heart rates.2
So if you have a pressure-packed job or brutal commute, you might think about getting an aquarium. Then fill it with as many fish as it takes to make you feel calm and collected.
(Or just look at the rocks and seaweed. They’re a lot easier to take care of!)
2. Listen to Music
Can listening to music lower your blood pressure?
Well, according to researchers at the Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine…Yes!3
They had a group of test subjects listen to music for just one hour, every other week. That might not sound like much… but after 3 months, the subjects’ blood pressure had dropped an average of 6 points.4
That’s comparable to someone who’s on a low-salt diet and lost 10 pounds, or taking a blood pressure-lowering medication!5 Pretty amazing, right?
It works best if you listen to classical music, like Verdi, Mozart, or Beethoven. (If you’re listening to Highway To Hell, I guarantee your blood pressure is not going to go down.)6
3. Take up Knitting
Actually, this method isn’t all that unknown. Knitting has been used in various therapy situations for decades.
There are groups that knit to help quit smoking, lose weight, deal with depression… and lower your blood pressure.7
It has to do with the “relaxation response,” a physical state of deep rest that lowers heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen consumption.8
The focus and repetitive movements of knitting will trigger it. That actually makes it very similar to meditation – only your mantra is “knit one, purl two,” instead of “Om.”
4. Try Woodworking
Knitting isn’t the only hobby that’s good for your BP. The same level of crafty Zen can be reached through woodworking.9
It also requires focus and repetitive movements (like sanding, planing… even sawing).
And your hours in the shop yield other benefits… you can create personalized gifts for people you love, or build a birdhouse that’s relaxing to watch during the day.
And that will help lower your blood pressure too!10
I hope you found these tips interesting and helpful. And if you don’t like watching fish, knitting, or listening to music, think about a time when you’ve found yourself really in “The Zone.”
Maybe it’s playing an instrument, maybe it’s shooting hoops, maybe it’s chopping vegetables.
Whatever it is that triggers your relaxation response, try to squeeze in a little more, as often as you can. Your blood pressure will thank you!
1,2 Deborah Cracknell, Mathew P. White, Sabine Pahl, Wallace J. Nichols, and Michael H. Depledge. Marine Biota and Psychological Well-Being: A Preliminary Examination of Dose–Response Effects in an Aquarium Setting. Environment and Behavior 1–28. National Marine Aquarium, Plymouth, UK, Plymouth University, UK, University of Exeter Medical School, UK. July, 2015
3,4,5 Peeples, Lynne. Laughter, music may lower blood pressure. Health.com. 2011.
6 L Bernardi, C Porta, and P Sleight. Cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, and respiratory changes induced by different types of music in musicians and non‐musicians: the importance of silence. Heart. 2006 Apr; 92(4): 445–452. Published online 2005 Sep 30. doi: 10.1136/hrt.2005.064600 PMCID: PMC1860846
7 Carrie Barron, MD. I knit therefore I can: the science behind knitting and psychological health. Yarn Market News. Sept/Oct. 2015.
8 Sara Martin. The power of the relaxation response: A behavioral medicine pioneer reports on a time-tested technique that reverses aging and improves health. Monitor on Psychology, American Psychological Association. Vol 39, No. 9, 2008.
9 Robert E. Kowalski. AARP The Blood Pressure Cure: 8 Weeks to Lower Blood Pressure Without Prescription Drugs. John Wiley & Sons: Hoboken, NJ. 2007.
10Stephen T. Sinatra, MD, Jan Sinatra, RN, MSN, Roberta Jo Lieberman. Heart Sense for Women. LifeLine Press: Washington, DC. 2000.