Study suggests 2 best exercises for lowering blood pressure

Study suggests 2 best exercises for lowering blood pressure

When it comes to maintaining good health, blood pressure plays a critical role. High blood pressure, often known as hypertension, is a common illness that, if left untreated, can lead to major health concerns.

Traditionally, aerobic or cardio exercises have been recommended to help lower blood pressure. However, recent research suggests that there’s another effective exercise type worth incorporating in hypertension prevention and treatment: isometric, or static, exercises.

These exercises engage muscles without movement, providing stability to the body. In a groundbreaking study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that isometric exercises are the most effective way to reduced systolic and diastolic blood pressure.


Exercise for blood pressure: The traditional approach

For years, existing guidelines on exercise for management have focused on aerobic or cardio exercises like running or cycling.

These exercises have proven to be effective but are based on older research that does not consider more recently adopted exercise protocols like high intensity interval training and isometric training.

Researchers conducted a thorough review of 270 randomized controlled trials with 15,827 participants to identify the most effective exercises for lowering blood pressure.


Isometric exercise: A powerful ally

The isometric exercise resulted in the most significant pressure decreases (Elina Fairytale/Pexels)
The isometric exercise resulted in the most significant pressure decreases (Elina Fairytale/Pexels)

The results of the meta-analysis were eye-opening. Among the exercises examined, including HIIT, dynamic resistance training, aerobic exercise and a combination of dynamic resistance and aerobic training, the isometric exercise demonstrated the most significant reductions in pressure.

The data showed that reductions in blood pressure were highest after isometric exercise, with a notable decrease of 8.24/4 mmHg. Isometric exercises involve contracting muscles without visible length change and with no joint movement.

They can be performed with or without weights, relying solely on bodyweight. Popular isometric exercises include wall sits/squats, planks and static lunges. Wall squats, in particular, were found to be highly effective for reducing systolic pressure.


Incorporating isometric exercises in your routine

If you’re interested in incorporating isometric exercises in your fitness routine, it’s essential to do so safely and effectively.

Consider the following guidelines:

  • Wall squats: Stand with your back flat against a wall, with your feet about 1½ feet (0.5 meters) away from the wall and shoulder-width apart. Inhale and exhale as you squat as low as you comfortably can, without the buttocks going lower than the knees. Hold the position till you feel discomfort. Inhale as you stand, pushing up from the heels. Aim for 10 wall squats thrice a week.
  • Isometric training programmes: These consist of four two-minute contractions separated by one to four-minute rest intervals performed three times a week. Consult a professional with experience in clinical exercise, like a sport and exercise medicine doctor, physiotherapist or clinical exercise physiologist, to create a safe and tailored program for you.

Isometric exercises have emerged as a potent and effective tool for managing blood pressure. While traditional aerobic exercises continue to be valuable, incorporating isometric exercises, like wall squats and planks, can further enhance pressure reduction efforts.

However, as with any exercise programme, it’s essential to consult a healthcare professional, especially if you have pre-existing health conditions. By embracing isometric exercises and maintaining other healthy lifestyle habits, like a balanced diet and managing stress, individuals can take proactive steps towards preventing and treating hypertension, safeguarding their long-term health and well-being.

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