If you’ve been watching your diet and exercising, but you still haven’t been able to get your blood pressure down, here’s good news: New research has uncovered additional options that could help you drop those stubborn numbers—and potentially even avoid medication.
In a new scientific statement from the American Heart Association, researchers reviewed the data from over 1,000 studies on alternative blood pressure therapies that didn’t include drugs or dietary changes. “Some of the proven methods to lower blood pressure, like exercise and a low-salt diet, can be hard to follow. And there’s a lot of information—and misinformation—about non-drug alternatives,” says lead study author Robert Brook, MD, associate professor of medicine at the University of Michigan.
Dr. Brook and his colleagues are hoping to set the record straight with their comprehensive review on what does—and what doesn’t—supplement standard treatments for lowering BP. According to the research, these few things could help:
Isometric handgrip exercises: In other words, contracting your hand muscles in quick, short bursts, like when you squeeze a stress ball. But it’s not just about reducing stress. Instead, handgrip exercises “can directly improve the blood vessels’ ability to relax,” Dr. Brook says. Try two minutes of pulse-and-release squeezing, followed by a break of a few minutes, for 12 to 15 minutes, three times a week.