Crank the tunes
Music is a perfect tool for loosening your arteries. Listening to 30 minutes a day of “rhythmically homogeneous” music (that is, anything with a steady beat), combined with breathing exercises, can lower your systolic blood pressure by more than 4 points after 3 months, according to a 2008 Italian study. Breathing in and out with an inhale/exhale ratio of 1 to 2 while listening to slow, steady music relaxes your vessels, says Randall Zusman, M.D., director of the hypertension division at the Massachusetts General Hospital heart center.
The key is to cue up the right type of music, says Michael Miller, M.D., who coauthored a different music study in 2008. That study found that when people relaxed and breathed steadily while listening to music they found pleasurable—whether it was Mozart or Maroon 5—the linings of their blood vessels dilated by 26 percent. Those who listened to music that made them anxious experienced a 6 percent narrowing of their blood vessels. It’s your emotional connection with the music that may be key to a lower BP, Dr. Miller says.