Exercises for Lowing Blood Pressure

As we age, we become victims of many chronic diseases, including high blood pressure, diabetes, high cholesterol and many others.

According to a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, in addition to aerobic and cardio exercises, which are known for lowering blood pressure (BP), other forms of physical activity are worth including as an effective BP management tools.

According to Mayo Clinic, the other forms of activity include isometric or static exercises that are done with or without weights relying on the body’s own weight. “Isometric muscle action happens when muscles contract but do not visibly change length, and the joints involved don’t move, facilitating stability of the body”, CNN writes.

Overall, isometric exercise training is the most effective mode in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. These findings provide a comprehensive data-driven framework to support the development of new exercise guideline recommendations for the prevention and treatment of arterial hypertension.

-Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll, co-author of British study (source: CNN Health)

Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll, a reader in cardiovascular physiology at Canterbury Christ Church University’s School of Psychology and Life Sciences in England, and co-author of the study, told in a news release, “The researchers believe that the current recommendations for exercise to help lower blood pressure, based on traditional aerobic or ‘cardio’ exercises such as cycling or running, although effective, are outdated and a review of exercise guidelines for controlling blood pressure is now needed”.

What’s Healthy Blood Pressure?

The authors define healthy blood pressure as “a reading below 130 over 85 millimeters of mercury — a measurement of pressure known as mmHg — pre-high blood pressure as ranging from 130/85 mmHg to 139/89 mmHG, and high blood pressure as 140/90 mmHG or greater.”

The reductions in blood pressure after aerobic exercise training amounted to 4.49/2.53 mmHg; 4.55/3.04 mmHg after dynamic resistance training; 6.04/2.54 mmHg after combined training; 4.08/2.50 mmHg after HIIT; and 8.24/4 mmHg after isometric exercise training.

– News release (source: CNN)

Quoting the study, CNN writes, “Performing wall squats (isometric exercise) was most effective for reducing systolic pressure, and running (aerobic exercise) was most beneficial for decreasing diastolic pressure, but isometric exercise overall was best for lowering both pressure elements”.

Joanne Whitmore, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told CNN via email:

It’s encouraging to see other forms of exercise explored in this research as we know that those who take on exercise they enjoy tend to carry on for longer, which is key in maintaining lower blood pressure.

However, it’s important to note that there are other lifestyle changes as well as exercise that can benefit your blood pressure. These include keeping to a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet, cutting down on salt, not drinking too much alcohol and ensuring that you continue to take any prescribed medication.

Jim Pate, senior exercise physiologist at Marylebone Health Group in London, told CNN, that this research fits very nicely into WHO guidelines, recommending a 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise weekly, which includes two strength-based training sessions.

“People with health conditions should not be afraid to exercise in safe ways. But seeking a professional who has experience with clinical exercise, like a sport and exercise medicine doctor, physiotherapist or clinical exercise physiologist, can help provide the structure and reassurance to make it achievable,” Pate added to CNN.

How to do wall squat correctly is described in this guide from the Arthritis Foundation.

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