How breathing exercises for high blood pressure helped me to fix anxiety and high blood pressure and how to choose breathing to lower blood pressure which will work best for you
According to the World Health Organisation over 1.1 billion people across the world suffer from high blood pressure, or hypertension . The good news is that in many cases one can lower high blood pressure with simple breathing exercises at least short term (2). This blog post explains how and when use breathing exercises for high blood pressure and anxiety.
As someone who has suffered from both conditions in the past, I found that breathing exercises are a great natural tool which helps to lower both anxiety and high blood pressure.
What is Hypertension?
High blood pressure is higher-than-normal force of blood against walls of blood vessel walls. It forces the heart to work harder and hence creates a risk of developing cardiovascular diseases, i.e. stroke. According to the guidelines of the American College of Cardiology , the normal blood pressure is under 120/80 mm HG. People are more likely to develop hypertension if they have a family history of this condition, as they age or become overweight.
Some natural ways to lower risk for hypertension include managing weight, becoming physically active, eating healthy food, enjoying adequate sleep and managing stress. Getting conditions such as diabetes and high cholesterol under control is critically important.
What is anxiety?
According to the Institute of Mental Health , people with generalised anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry most days about things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Research  shows that people who suffer from anxiety are more at risk of high blood pressure.
Some people may develop anxiety as a result of having hypertension. Managing anxiety with natural tools usually translates in lower blood pressure and the other way around.
This certainly worked in my case. My doctor suggested starting with breathing exercises to calm the mind and body. Special breathing exercises provide short term relief and condition us to take further actions which help to lower anxiety and high blood pressure long term.
Why breathing exercises lower blood pressure?
Slow controlled breathing is one of the best ways to lower high blood pressure. When we breathe slowly, the brain directs the body to dilate blood vessels which leads to lower blood pressure. This article  provides detailed scientific explanation why breathing exercises work for high blood pressure and anxiety.
Breathing anxiety techniques Breathing exercises also help to lower anxiety. Slower breathing engages parasympathetic nervous system which puts us into "the rest and digest mode". Essentially the brain tells our body that at this moment we are safe and there is nothing to worry about.
SIMPLE TRICK. Many people experience a “white coat syndrome” when a doctor takes their blood pressure reading. Try one of the slow breathing exercises below for a few minutes before entering doctor's office.
Here are some of the popular breathing exercises.
1. Balance breathing.
Works great in most situations when you have just 1 minute to reduce stress, i.e. during a family argument or an important business meeting. Try to relax your face muscles and repeat 6-7 times the following breathing pattern: inhale for 4 seconds, exhale for 4 seconds.
I personally found this exercise to work well in business meetings when I needed to calm down without attracting too much attention. The longer you breathe applying this pattern, more relaxed you become, which helps immensely to lower high blood pressure.
2. 4-7-8 Breathing exercises
Great exercise for more relaxation, i.e. when you need to lower anxiety or high blood pressure after returning home from work. Also works well for a better night sleep. This exercise helps me to sleep better and wake up refreshed and full of energy after a stressful day.
Here is a breathing pattern for this exercise.
1. Take a deep, slow breath from your belly, and silently count to 4 as you breathe in.
2. Hold your breath, and silently count from 1 to 7.
3. Breathe out completely as you silently count from 1 to 8.
4. Repeat for at least one minute. Effectiveness increases with longer exercise duration.
3. Breathing plus walking exercises.
Once you tried an equal inhale/exhale interval breathing and 4-7-8 breathing, the next logical step is to expand structured breathing into other activities. For those who have a habit of walking regularly the best option is to integrate breathing into your walking routine. Combining walking and structured breathing increases positive health benefits of both activities.
I LOVE walking! It helped me to fix anxiety and high blood pressure. 30min walking + breathing exercise is my key tool to relax after a busy day and enjoy recovery sleep at night. Here is how you do this exercise.
As you walk, inhale to the count of four, pause for three counts and then exhale for six counts. Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Walk in cadence with your breath: your breath and your strides should follow the rhythmic count of four.
Breathing exercises apps
I created BreathNow app based on my personal experience of using breathing exercises to lower blood pressure. I also tried different breathing for anxiety techniques. The best of these exercises are integrated into BreathNow. You can also enjoy BreathNow as a blood pressure app for Apple Watch . The app includes a stress monitor which will help to select breathing exercises which work best for you.