Just Breathe: How to Use Breathing Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure

Research shows that this home treatment is remarkably effective. Try these easy breathing exercises to lower blood pressure—and your cardiovascular risk.

breathing exercises

"Take a deep breath...." How often have we heard that phrase during a trying or stressful time? It makes sense: Studies show we can use breathing exercises to lower blood pressure.

Photo: Dreamstime.com

Close your eyes and sit up straight. Take a deep breath while you count to five, then count to five again as you exhale. Go ahead and try it right now for six breaths. It feels good, doesn’t it? Here’s what happens when you do easy breathing exercises:

  • First, you begin to calm your sympathetic nervous system and your fight-or-flight response, which lowers feelings of stress.[1]
  • You also begin to increase blood flow to your body’s tissues, which reduces resistance in your blood vessels and increases your exercise tolerance.
  • Your diaphragm moves up and down, which facilitates blood flow towards the heart.[2]

Because of all of that, you start to lower your blood pressure.

A study in 2005 showed that simply taking six deep breaths in a period of 30 seconds reduced systolic blood pressure by 3.4 to 3.9 units compared to just sitting quietly.[3] These results are consistent with a long line of evidence suggesting that deep breathing can lower blood pressure.[4]


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Does 140/90 still serve as the threshold for high blood pressure? New hypertension guidelines issued by the American College of Cardiology (ACC) and American Heart Association (AHA) call for a lower reading. Click here for our report.

How to Do Breathing Exercises to Lower Blood Pressure

  1. Find a comfortable, quiet place. Sit up straight or try lying down to promote deep breathing.
  2. Practice diaphragmatic breathing. For breathing exercises to be effective, you must use the diaphragm to take deep breaths. When inhaling, you should feel your abdomen expand (place one hand on your stomach to monitor this movement). Try breathing in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  3. Try to exhale for five seconds and inhale for five seconds. That would be six breaths per minute. The goal is to reach a rate of 10 or fewer breaths per minute.
  4. Download a breathing app, such as My Calm Beat, to set your desired breathing rate. The app will chime when it is time to breath in and out.
  5. Spend five to 15 minutes a day practicing your breathing.

High-Tech Breathing Techniques to Lower Blood Pressure

High-tech devices are available to guide breathing and help users take fewer than 10 breaths per minute. The device plays musical tones to tell the user when to inhale and exhale, and straps around the torso to measure the user’s breathing patterns. Researchers found that using this device for five minutes at least three to four times per week decreases resting blood pressure in hypertensive patients.[5,6] While evidence for the short-term benefits of device-guided breathing is quite strong, it is not yet known whether or not this treatment can hold a long-term effect on blood pressure.[6]

In addition to maintaining a healthy diet, eating foods that help lower blood pressure, and exercising regularly, taking time out of your day to breathe deeply can help lower blood pressure and make you feel relaxed and revitalized, too.

Share Your Experience

Have you ever tried deep breathing exercises to help lower blood pressure? What other strategies have you tried to lower blood pressure naturally? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

[1] Hypertension. 2013 Jun;61(6):1360-83.
[2] Cardiol Rev. 2011 Mar-Apr;19(2):47-51.
[3] Hypertens Res. 2005 Jun;28(6):499-504.
[4] Indian J Med Res. 2013 May;137(5):916-21.
[5] J Hum Hypertens. 2010 Dec;24(12):807-13.
[6] J Hypertens. 2013 Apr;31(4):739-46.

Originally published in 2016, this post is regularly updated.

  • I’ve been at hypertension to high blood pressure for several years and have used breath control from qi gong practice to lower my pressure by up to 20 units. However, I have not seen a long lasting effect as of yet.

  • Yes i am hypertensive also and try to use breathing excersises but they only help in the short term sadly

  • Shaikh n.

    I m having high blood pressure and today i have checked my bp was 150/110 is this normal in winter season .my age is 48

  • Shaikh n. 150/110 is high any time of year. Please see a doctor to discuss options.

  • My BP has been high, well over 200/100 since 2009. Last visit to Dr a month ago it was 240/110 at times it has been 270/120. I never feel ill with it or get headaches. I did try at different times BP meds but made me so ill it was unreal. Three times was enough so not willing to try a 4th kind. Last one had my heart racing like mad and feeling so unwell, unsocial, unable to sleep, leg cramps at night, mouth so dry at night it would wake me. My poor Dr has finally said, after seeing a graph my hubby did of BP taken each day for 3 months, just get out there and enjoy your life. So they have no idea why it can spike as much as 50 in one day.

  • James H.

    PamB. I have similar “problems” to you-Also my resting pulse rate is low 40-55 bpm.The only problem this gives me is worry and anxiety because doctors tell me this is horrific and must be “controlled” by meds. that make me feel like a zombie.I have been refused a minor operation because of a high pre-op reading.

  • Katie J.

    i was like wow does this really exist so i contacted the herbal foundation immediately so they gave me instruction on how the process goes which i followed exactly,i can proudly say i’m fully cure of copd emphysema without any side effect.
    Please do not hesitate to contact them at (totalcureherbalfoundation gmail com)

  • Rita G.

    I was not really having a problem breathing at first. My throat was burning; I thought I had strep throat. I had pain in my neck, and there was swelling around my collar bone. The first doctor I went to said he did not know why there was swelling. He gave me antibiotics and told me that if the swelling was not better to come back in two weeks. I went back in two weeks and he said he did not know what was wrong. Since I do not have insurance, I went to a hospital emergency room, and they said I have COPD.The disease does not improve. My “good days” are far and few these days. My dad and his dad died from this. I am only writing this to inform others that nothing was really working to help my condition.I started on COPD herbal formula i ordered from Health Herbal Clinic,i read reviews from other previous patients who used the herbal formula, my symptoms totally declined over a 5 weeks use of the COPD natural herbal formula. i am now doing very well, my lungs are totally repaired!! Visit there website www healthherbalclinic net or email Info healthherbalclinic net

  • I tried deep breathing and started at 7 breaths per min. And eventually got down to 3 breaths per min. For 20 minutes. When I started I wasn’t have HP problems now my numbers are around 145/80. Maybe I should go back to 6 per min.

  • Went to the doctors yesterday and my initial BP reading came back 160/100. Obviously this concerned the doctor who wanted to have it rechecked before I left. Prior to the nurse coming in for the 2nd reading I sat quietly for a minute and took deep breaths concentrating on each one. This is a technique I learned in yoga. The nurse came in an took the 2nd reading which was 120/78. I’m not saying the entire difference was due to deep breathing but that definitely helped.

  • I’ve strudged with high bp for years. Meds help but breathing pushed the ball over the goal line. Thevery main thing to remember is to think about breathing ando forget anything else (avoid the white coat syndrome).

  • Julie

    I have the same as the 2 commenters with the extremely high bp (sometimes 200 or more over occasionally 120) with no ill effects (& no meds – not willing to try those!) for a good many years (high bp at least 10, but not sure how long it’s been SO high). Strange thing is, I can take a 206/115 reading, take another with deep breathing & my head leaning back (a bit over extended over the top of the couch) and it will go down to 135/95 (only a couple minutes later) and a 3rd reading at 115/75, again only a couple minutes later. Obviously my high bp is most likely my “normal” bp, but with it fluctuating so much/easily I don’t know what to think. Starting to wonder if there are just some people with high bp & it’s not really a bad thing (I’m healthy otherwise – good weight, eat pretty healthy (whole/real foods), exercise/run. On NO meds.



  • 26/10/18

    I was at doctors today am over 80 and try to keep fit reading was 145/64 he said thats too high.Have had copd saw on youtube saw to breathe in 5 from diaphram hold 3 exhale 5, but only a few times will try doing it as above and quickly as told above all the best e veryone

  • 26/10/18

    Thanks for advice am 145/64 my dr says its too high I will try 5 breathes in and out see if that will make my medico happy

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