According to a study, one of the best methods to lower blood pressure is through strength-training activities like wall squats or maintaining the plank position.
The UK researchers advise that the current guidance, which focuses mostly on walking, running, and cycling, be modified.
All forms of exercise lowered high blood pressure, according to research from studies involving 16,000 people that was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
However, more falls were caused by wall squats and planking than by aerobic exercise.
These isometric workouts are made to increase strength without involving the movement of any joints or muscles.
The press-up-like plank posture, where the legs are extended behind the shoulders and the elbows are directly beneath the shoulders, strengthens the abdominals.
Placing the feet 2ft (60 cm) from a wall and sliding the back down it until the thighs are parallel to the ground is a wall squat.
According to Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll of Canterbury Christ Church University, the author of the study, isometric workouts exert a considerably different load on the body than aerobic exercise.
“They cause a sudden rush of blood when you relax,” he claims. “They increase the tension in the muscles when held for two minutes.”
Although the blood flow is increased, it’s important to breathe properly.
The strain that high blood pressure places on the heart, blood vessels, and other organs raises the risk of illnesses including heart attacks and strokes.
In addition to medicine, patients are frequently counseled to adopt healthy eating habits, limit alcohol use, quit smoking, and engage in regular exercise.
Every five years, those over 40 are advised to have their blood pressure checked.
Millimeters of mercury (mmHg) are used to measure the blood pressure in the arteries. According to the study, blood pressure less than 130/85 mmHg is good and more than 140/90 mmHg is excessive.
Systolic blood pressure, which has a greater number, represents the force exerted by the heartbeat on the blood in the arteries.
The lower figure represents the pressure experienced between heartbeats, or diastolic blood pressure.
Researchers from Canterbury Christ Church University and Leicester University used data from 15,827 participants who had exercised for at least two weeks in 270 clinical trials that were published between 1990 and 2023 for their analysis.
They found resting blood pressure was reduced by:
- 4.49/2.53mmHg after aerobic-exercise training (such as running or cycling)
- 4.55/3.04mm Hg after dynamic resistance or weight training
- 6.04/2.54mmHg after combined training (aerobic and weights)
- 4.08/2.50mmHg after high-intensity interval training (short bursts of intense exercise with periods of rest in between)
- 8.24/4mmHg after isometric-exercise training (planks and wall squats)
According to Dr. O’Driscoll, these are comparatively minor declines, but they might reduce someone’s risk of stroke.
According to current UK recommendations, adults should engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise, or 75 minutes of strenuous activity, twice a week.
Dr. O’Driscoll also advises them to think about performing two minutes of wall squats or keeping the plank position for four repetitions with a two-minute break in between, three times each week.
Exercise is beneficial for heart health and can cut the risk of heart and circulation disorders by up to 35%, according to the British Heart Foundation charity.
According to Joanne Whitmore, senior cardiac nurse at the BHF, “We know that those who engage in exercise they enjoy tend to carry on for longer, which is key in maintaining lower blood pressure.”
She also mentioned additional lifestyle modifications that would be beneficial, such as reducing salt intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and continuing to take any prescription medications.
Anyone who is concerned about their blood pressure is recommended to visit their doctor to get it checked and to discuss the activity that is most appropriate for their condition.