Simple Exercise Reduces Blood Pressure

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According to a large study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, found that exercises that engage muscles without movement — such as wall squats and planks (also known as isometric or static exercises) — may be best for lowering blood pressure.

The Mayo Clinic website says that such isometric exercises are good for strength building. “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”.

Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll, study coauthor and a reader in cardiovascular physiology at Canterbury Christ Church University’s School of Psychology and Life Sciences in England, said in a news release “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.”

Quoting from the study, CNN writes “healthy resting 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 top numbers of these figures are the systolic pressure; the bottom numbers are diastolic pressure.”

Joanne Whitmore, senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, told CNN “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,” Whitmore added.

The study suggests “Isometric training programs usually involve four two-minute contractions, separated by one- to four-minute rest intervals, done three times per week”.

Jim Pate, senior exercise physiologist at Marylebone Health Group in London, told CNN “This research fits very nicely into those guidelines. 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.”

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