Lowering blood pressure not only protects against heart disease, it also cuts the risk of COVID-19 complications by 60 percent, suggests research in JAMA, by keeping blood vessels healthy. “Even small changes add up, lowering blood pressure all day long,” says cardiologist Stephen Sinatra, M.D., author of Reverse Heart Disease Now
When you wake, count your breaths.
Your production of pressure-rising stress hormones is highest when you wake up. But relaxing in bed for 2 minutes before you get up and breathing slowly and deeply (taking 10 breaths each minute) can calm your nervous system, blocking that stress hormone surge, Harvard researchers report. Make relaxed breathing part of your morning routine, and your blood pressure could stay 10 points lower all morning long!
When you eat, give thanks.
Starting meals with a prayer can trim 10 points off your blood pressure, plus cut the risk of pressure spikes by 40 percent, Canadian researchers say. Explains cardiologist Herbert Benson, M.D., prayers of gratitude elicit the relaxation response, which reduces anxiety, slows your heart and lowers blood pressure.
When you sip, add lemon.
Three glasses of water daily can cut the risk of blood pressure spikes by 38 percent. Explains rheumatologist Nicola Dalbeth, M.D., water flushes out a waste product (uric acid) that tightens arteries. Add a splash of lemon, and you’ll trim four points off blood pressure. UCLA researchers say the scent relaxes arteries.
When you wash, finish with warmth.
After washing your face, hold a warm washcloth to your eyes for two minutes to trim nine points off blood pressure for two hours. Finnish scientists say warmth on facial skin prompts calming, artery-relaxing alpha brain waves.
When you walk, kick off your shoes.
Walk barefoot on your lawn, patio or nubby rug daily, and your blood pressure could drop by six points in one week! University of Connecticut researchers say rough surfaces stimulate acupressure points in your soles that relax artery walls.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine.