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Exercise Heart Disease

An Easy Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure

            Spending a few minutes three times a week squeezing spring-loaded handgrips can reduce systolic blood pressure by up to fifteen points in less than ten weeks.  Typically the diastolic number (the pressure in between beats) will fall by three points.

            While handgrips are not a cure for hypertension, they are a nice way to tone up muscles and a safe addition for helping reduce high blood pressure.  Bonus advantages include improved dexterity, stronger muscles in your forearms for lifting, and a better grip for activities like opening jars.

            Why this modest exercise works is not fully understood, a possible explanation is that the exercise makes the walls of the carotid artery and other blood vessels more flexible, allowing for greater blood flow to the heart.

            To get started, hold the grip in your right hand, squeeze it and hold for five seconds, then release. Repeat as often as you can for two minutes, then rest for two minutes. Switch to your left hand and repeat the squeeze-and-hold pattern for two minutes.

            Continue until you perform four complete sets for each hand (for a total of 16 minutes of squeezing).  As the exercise becomes easier, try holding your contractions for a few seconds more on each hand until you build up strength.  Each week, do the handgrip exercises at least three days. To learn more, Click Here.

Little Changes Make a Difference

            Most of the leading causes of death in this country are highly preventable. We don’t need special supplements or Beyonce diets or jars of vitamins or vegan retreats. Begin simply. Put more plants on your plate. Cut out most meat.  Consider growing a little garden, shopping more in the fresh vegetable section of the grocery store, and shopping in season for vegetables at one of our many farmers’ markets. Then share with a friend all you have learned.

            The best chance for reforming the Western diet begins with teaching the next generation. Take your kids to the farmers’ market or, if you have space, plant a little garden or just a put a pot of basil on the windowsill. Interest them in cooking.  Read more at “Doctors like me tell you to eat less meat. It’s about time you start listening.”

Nancy Neighbors, MD

By Nancy Neighbors, MD

... Dr. Neighbors provides a blend of traditional family medicine and evidence-based lifestyle medicine in Huntsville, Alabama. When indicated, lifestyle change is recommended as the first line of therapy.

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