Sex and Other Fun Ways to Lower Blood Pressure
High blood pressure can have big negative consequences on your physical and mental health. But there’s good news amid the gloom: keeping your BP out of the danger zone doesn’t have to be just about restraint. Instead find your perfect and perfectly fun blood pressure-release valves.
Out with the guilt! Find fun ways to lower your blood pressure.
"Never, ever underestimate the importance of having fun” -- Randy Pausch“But it’s hard to have fun when all I do is worry about my blood pressure,” said Ryan, a successful geneticist who after 10 years in school, immediately joined a big company and then got married and had kids. Ryan was very driven, but also a positive thinker, until hypertension started affecting his life. “Everyday I worry about my blood pressure. Do I need to take drugs. Will I have a heart attack. Do I need to quit my job. I can’t stop myself thinking about the consequences and constantly feel guilty that I don't fix my diet or exercise more.”Ryan is not alone. Over one-fourth of American men between the ages of 35 and 44 have hypertension, according to the American Heart Association. As much as we plan to stay forever young and healthy, the reality is we age and have conflicting priorities. For many of us, this means that the older we get, the higher our blood pressure gradually increases. This impacts everything from our ability to play football with our kids (assuming we had the time), to our ability to have sex with our partner.
Keeping your BP out of the danger zone doesn’t have to be only about restraint
But there’s good news amid the gloom: keeping your BP out of the danger zone doesn’t have to be just about restraint. Instead find your perfect -- and perfectly fun -- blood pressure-release valves.
Swing With Dark Chocolate
A friend of mine likes to say: “If there’s no chocolate in heaven, I’m not going!” It sounds like a whimsical statement, doesn’t it? But you may be surprised knowing that a daily dose of dark chocolate can significantly lower your BP. A study in Italy shows that people who had both pre-diabetes and high BP managed to lower their BP by eating 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate each day for 15 days. Thanks to the nitric oxide and antioxidant compounds found in dark chocolate, they successfully lowered their BP by 4.5 points and their diastolic by 4.2. A sustained improvement of that extent could lower your risk of heart attack by 20 percent over 5 years. (Nitric oxide prompts blood vessels to dilate which lowers blood pressure)
Crank The Tunes
Music is a wonderful way to go for those who have high BP. Listening to 30 minutes a day of music, combined with breathing exercises -- breathing in and out with an inhale/exhale ratio of 1 to 2 -- can relax your vessels as well as lower your BP by more than 4 points after 3 months. Anything with a steady beat would be a great choice. (As an aside check out this this YouTube video of music that slows heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and decreases cortisol stress levels.)
Laugh It Up
Whenever you laugh out loud, you’re doing your arteries good. Laughing at a funny movie causes blood vessels to dilate by 22 percent, according to a study of the University of Maryland. The physical action of laughing causes the tissue forming the inner lining of your blood vessels to expand, allowing for an increase in blood flow and reducing BP. So maybe it’s time to organize a “Family Movie Time” with a fun movie and dark chocolates. Steve Martin anyone?
Toast Your Health
Just don’t toast more than two drinks per day! Limit your daily intake to two 12-ounce beers, two 5-ounce glasses of wine, or two 1.5-ounce drinks of liquor. Great beer doesn’t have to give you a gut, an epic Saturday night shouldn’t cost you your Sunday, and you never again have to feel guilty about taking the edge off a hard day.
Pet Your Dog
If you have a dog, pet it and talk to it. A recent study in the journal Science, found that dog owners experienced a dramatic surge of the relaxation hormone oxytocin when their pets gazed into their eyes. It also reduces levels of stress hormones. Bonding with your dog feels good. It can also lower your blood pressure.
Take Her or Him To Bed
Craving the calm you get from yoga? Go for an orgasm instead. You feel relaxed after climaxing because you were practically brain-dead while you were doing it. Using scans to measure brain activity, researchers from the Netherlands found that women experience no negative emotions during orgasm -- such as fear, anxiety and stress. When you're in the throes, there's no worrying about the kids' report cards, the weekly grocery list or the pile of bills on your desk. But it's a chicken-and-egg situation: The only way to reach orgasm is to clear your head of that stuff to begin with. If you are having troubles with Erectile Dysfunction because of High Blood Pressure, you can still get the benefits by cultivating intimacy with your partner. Oxytocin, a hormone associated with intimacy and reduced stress, is released by intimate contact.Better Blood Pressure = Better Sex.Work to have a better sex life and your BP will be improved too.
Don't feel guilty about your blood pressure and focus solely on what you aren't doing to control it. Do what you can, but then start taking advantage of fun sexual and sensual activities that can have a tremendous impact to lower your blood pressure.
Tracking will only increase the pleasure and effect
So where does BP tracking come in? Simple: how are you going to know if the chocolate, tunes, jokes, drinks, dog bonding and sex are actually having a positive effect over time unless you track it (iOS, Android). Follow these tips for two weeks, record your BP daily, use Hello Heart (iOS, Android) to visualize and see if there is any difference. Not only will you be doing pleasurable activities, the impact of seeing your BP decrease (or at least stay stable), will be a big mental boost.