Usually when talking about high blood pressure, it is recommended that you sit less and exercise more.
But sometimes sitting can be more effective than exercising in lowering blood pressure, as proven in a new study published in the Journal of Human Hypertension.
In fact, this special type of sitting instantly lowered the study participants’ blood pressure by 7 points in 30 minutes.
What’s more, this has nothing to do with meditation or relaxation. This sitting requires no effort, and you can do whatever you want while sitting like this.
A team of Finnish scientists recruited 102 Finnish volunteers with an average age of 51.9, all with at least one cardiovascular risk factor like smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or a family history of cardiovascular disease.
After checking that the participants used saunas one to four times per week at home, they asked them to spend 30 minutes in a sauna with a temperature of 73°C (163 Fahrenheit) and a humidity score of between 10 and 20%.
They collected cardiovascular information before, directly after, and 30 minutes after the sauna session.
Compared to before entering the sauna, their systolic blood pressure dropped by 7 mmHg immediately, and remained lower even after the 30-minute recovery period.
Their diastolic pressure also dropped by 7 mmHg and remained lower after the recovery period.
Their carotid-femoral pulse wave velocity, which is the velocity at which your arterial pulse is transmitted through your circulatory system, dropped by 1.2 m/s from before to immediately after the sauna session. This is the most reliable measure of arterial stiffness, with a score above 10 being problematically high.
Red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets all increased, with the white blood cells remaining high after the recovery period. These are your immune system’s cells.
Their heart rate increased in line with a typical increase during moderate exercise, dropping back to normal after 30 minutes.
Similar to your body’s response to exercise, the sauna heat makes your blood vessels widen, which allows for more blood flow.
The widening of your blood vessels makes your blood pressure drop which, in turn, makes your heartbeat faster to increase your blood flow.
But the sauna also relieves stress, both physical and emotional. And that’s even more important for high blood pressure than pumping blood.