Friday, May 9, 2008

Easy Trick to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Here's an easy trick that takes just a few minutes and will help lower your blood pressure. Breathe in. Breathe out. Very, very slowly. Try to take fewer than 10 breaths every 60 seconds. If you faithfully do this every day for five minutes or so, it will help lower your blood pressure. That's the word from researchers at the National Institute on Aging in Bethesda, Md., which is part of the National Institutes of Health.

Why does this work?
It's not the relaxation and brief interlude of peace from an otherwise chaotic day. Instead, it has to do with how the body breaks down salt, reports The Associated Press of the groundbreaking work being conducted by Dr. David Anderson. If he's right and we can lower our blood pressure by just breathing slowly, it could radically change how hypertension is treated. "If you sit there under-breathing all day and you have a high salt intake, your kidneys may be less effective at getting rid of that salt than if you're out hiking in the woods," Anderson explained to AP. High blood pressure, which afflicts some 65 million Americans, increases the risk for a host of illnesses, including heart attacks, strokes, kidney damage, blindness and dementia. Because there are rarely any symptoms until the damage is done, hypertension is called the silent killer. High blood pressure is considered a level of 140/90 or higher. One of the primary causes, in addition to being overweight and inactive, is eating too much salt.

While meditation, yoga and other slow-breathing techniques are thought to help lower blood pressure, scientific proof has been a bit thin. While slow breathing is not a substitute for a healthy diet and regular exercise, it does seem to help hypertension. Anderson is testing a nonprescription medical device, approved in 2002 by the Food and Drug Administration, called RESPeRATE that helps to pace breathing from the typical 16 to 19 breaths a minute to 10 or fewer, reports AP. Even the scientists are surprised at how effective it can be. While slow breathing relaxes and dilates blood vessels, the effect is only temporary.

How does it produce a lasting drop in blood pressure?
Anderson has a theory. He thinks that when we are under stress, we take more shallow breaths and hold them--even if we aren't conscious of doing so. That sends the blood flowing full force to the brain and throws off the body's natural chemical balance. That in turn makes the blood more acidic so the kidneys are less efficient at pumping out the sodium. If we breathe better, will it reverse this effect? It can't hurt to try! So while you eat more broccoli and workout on the treadmill every day--proven ways to lower your blood pressure--also try taking a few moments to breathe slowly.

Relaxation and Breathing for Meditation DVD
Relaxation and breathwork prepare you for meditation, the practice of silencing the mind to instill a sense of calm and contentment. Relaxation and Breathing for Meditation with Rodney Yee is a program of gentle yoga poses and breathing techniques to bring body and mind to stillness. DVD has chapter menus for easy navigation and reference.

Yoga for Meditation DVD
Use yoga to quiet the mind, body, and soul.
An ideal complement to class instruction. DVD version includes a bonus workout, an on-screen pose guide and instructor interviews. Approximately 3 hours.