Moving Less May Be Key to Lowering Blood Pressure

Moving Less May Be Key to Lowering Blood Pressure

Everyone knows that exercise can help lower blood pressure, but less movement might be the secret to reducing the risk of heart disease.

While most workouts involve movement, some of them require maintaining stillness. It’s these uncommon types of exercise that might be the most helpful for helping people with hypertension, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The Guardian provided the following summary of the study:

Researchers at Canterbury Christ Church and Leicester universities compared the efficacy of different forms of exercise on reducing blood pressure and found that “isometric exercises” – which involve engaging muscles without movement such as wall sits and planks – were almost twice as effective compared with the government recommended exercise guidelines.

The study examined 270 randomised controlled clinical trials, involving 15,827 participants, on the effects of particular forms of exercise on resting blood pressure. They were classified as aerobic; dynamic resistance training; a combination of these; Hiit; and isometric exercises. The authors analysed the effects of exercise on both systolic blood pressure, which measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, and diastolic blood pressure, which measures arterial pressure between beats.

The study … found significant reductions in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure after all the categories of exercise. Although other forms of exercise such as aerobic exercise, squats, weights and high-intensity interval training also reduced blood pressure, isometric exercises were the most effective.

“Performing 4 x 2 minutes of wall sits, with 2-minutes’ rest in between, three times per week, is an effective way to reduce your blood pressure,” Senior author of the report Jamie O’Driscoll said.

O’Driscoll added that these workouts should not replace more traditional movement-oriented exercise, but rather they should supplement them.

“They should be done alongside other exercise modes, to provide the maximum range of exercise choices rather than limiting them.”


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