5 Easy Breathing Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure

by | Jul 29, 2022

Reading Time: 5 minutes

When done for just five minutes a day, deep breathing exercises can lower blood pressure, boost vascular health, and sharply reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular disease. It almost sounds like an infomercial, but this is no gimmick. 

Extensive research shows that diaphragmatic breathing (aka abdominal breathing) has serious power when it comes to lowering blood pressure and has the potential to improve the health of billions across the globe.  

This article will explore how diaphragmatic breathing can naturally lower blood pressure, as well as share six simple yet highly effective breathing exercises you can start using today. 

 

What Is High Blood Pressure? 

More than 30 percent of the adult population worldwide, and nearly half of the U.S. population, experience a medical condition called high blood pressure, also known as hypertension.[*][*] The term “blood pressure” refers to the force of the blood pushing against the walls of the arteries. When someone is diagnosed with high blood pressure, it means the force of the blood on the veins is too high, specifically above 130/80 mmHg.

High blood pressure forces the heart to work harder and weakens the inside of the arteries, which can lead to life-threatening medical conditions like heart attacks and strokes. 

Several factors can contribute to high blood pressure, including smoking, a salty diet, obesity, stress, excessive alcohol consumption, and genetics. Fortunately, you can bring your blood pressure numbers down with lifestyle changes: exercising, limiting salt intake, maintaining a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco smoke, and practicing diaphragmatic breathing. 

 

How Does Diaphragmatic Breathing Affect Blood Pressure? 

To understand how breathing affects blood pressure, let’s examine what happens in the body when you take deep, diaphragmatic breaths.[*

  • You reduce the activity of your sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the “fight or flight” reflex.
  • You increase the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for the opposite reflex—“rest and digest.” When this happens, your heart rate decreases, your blood vessels dilate, and your breathing rate slows. 
  • You increase blood flow to your body’s tissues, which reduces resistance in your blood vessels. 
  • Your diaphragm moves up and down, facilitating blood flow towards the heart. 

The combination of the above bodily processes naturally lowers blood pressure. This isn’t mere conjecture either—numerous clinical research studies have documented the beneficial effects of slow, deep breathing on blood pressure.[*][*][*][*

 

Diaphragmatic Breathing Exercises for Lowering Blood Pressure

The following breathing exercises for high blood pressure can be done virtually any time, anywhere. Aim to practice diaphragmatic breathing for five to 20 minutes a day.

30-Second Breathing

According to a study involving 20,000 Japanese individuals, taking six deep breaths within 30 seconds can significantly reduce systolic blood pressure.[*] Systolic blood pressure is the top number in a blood pressure reading. It measures the force produced by the heart when it pumps blood through the body. 

How to practice: 

  1. Set a timer for 30 seconds. 
  2. Take six deep breaths, in through your nose and out through your mouth. 
  3. Repeat as needed throughout your day.  

 

Equal Breathing

Equal breathing, also known as box breathing, is a foundational deep breathing practice and a perfect exercise to begin with. As the name suggests, this technique focuses on taking steady inhalations and exhalations of equal duration. 

How to practice:

  1. Exhale slowly, releasing all the air from your lungs.
  2. Breathe in through your nose as you slowly count to four in your head.
  3. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  4. Exhale for a count of four.
  5. Hold your breath for a count of four.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5 for four rounds, or until you feel relaxed.

 

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Alternate nostril breathing is a yogic breath control practice that entails alternating breaths between the two nostrils. In a study of people with hypertension, those who practiced alternate nostril breathing 20 minutes a day for five days experienced a marked reduction in systolic blood pressure and diastolic blood pressure—the bottom number of a blood pressure reading that reflects the pressure in the arteries when the heart rests between beats. The study participants also experienced a reduction in heart rate.[*

How to practice: 

  1. Raise your hand to your nose, as if you were going to pinch your nose shut with your thumb and pointer fingers. 
  2. Exhale fully and then close your right nostril with your thumb.
  3. Inhale through your left nostril.
  4. Open your right nostril and exhale through it while closing your left nostril with your pointer finger.
  5. Continue this rotation for five minutes.

 

Diaphragmatic Breathing with Somnox 

 If you feel like you could use some extra guidance in practicing diaphragmatic breathing, look no further than Somnox 2. Using robotic technology, this science-backed device expands and deflates as if it’s taking deep, diaphragmatic belly breaths. Somnox can be used to lower stress and induce relaxation any time of day, whether on your lunch break or before sleep

By simply cradling Somnox, you’ll unconsciously adopt the same slower-paced breathing rhythm. This reduces the activity of the sympathetic nervous system while increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system. 

How to use: 

  1. Hold Somnox 2 and turn it on. Within minutes, you’ll subconsciously adopt its calm breathing pattern.
  2. Smart sensors respond to your breathing in real-time, matching your rhythm and gradually adjusting it to the ideal rate.
  3. Feel your nerves relax and tension release. 
  4. If you’re using it for sleep, continue deeply breathing until you fall asleep. With the help of Somnox 2, you’re sure to fall asleep quickly, stay asleep, and wake up feeling rested.

Take our online sleeptest to determine if Somnox is right for you. 

 

Breath Focus

This diaphragmatic breathing technique uses focus words, phrases, or images to induce relaxation. You can choose a focus image, word, or phrase that makes you feel relaxed or happy, or one that is simply neutral. 

Example words include “peace,” “calm,” or “relax.” You can also say a short phrase in your mind with each inhale and exhale. For example, “I breathe in calm” as you breathe in, and “I breathe out tension” as you exhale. Focus images may be something like a pristine, white sand beach or a calm lake.

How to practice: 

  1. Practice diaphragmatic breathing for a couple of minutes, breathing deep into your belly. 
  2. Begin the practice of breath focus by combining this deep breathing with your chosen word, phrase, or image. To do this, repeat your chosen word or phrase in your mind (or visualize your chosen image) while you continue to inhale and exhale.
  3. Continue for a few minutes or until you feel relaxed. 

 

Use Your Breath to Lower Your Blood Pressure

Diaphragmatic breathing is the quickest way to lower blood pressure without medications. Even more impressive is that it can lower blood pressure to a similar degree as blood pressure-reducing medications.[*]

Diaphragmatic breathing is especially beneficial if your high blood pressure is caused by stress or anxiety, but it will help regulate your blood pressure regardless of the cause. 

If you’re concerned about high blood pressure or the overall quality of your health, incorporate these simple breathing exercises into your routine starting today. You’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by how something so simple and natural can significantly impact your health and well-being

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