New Study Identifies Effective Exercises for Lowering Blood Pressure
Exercise is commonly recommended to lower blood pressure, alongside a healthy diet, weight loss, and smoking cessation. However, a recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that certain types of exercise may be more effective than others. Contrary to popular belief, isometric exercises, which involve holding one position without moving, were found to have a greater impact on reducing high blood pressure compared to aerobic exercises.
The Study and Findings:
The research, conducted by Dr. Jamie O'Driscoll, a cardiovascular physiologist at Canterbury Christ Church University, focused on isometric exercises and their ability to control hypertension. Specifically, exercises like planks and wall sits were noted for their effectiveness. Participants who performed 4 sets of 2-minute wall sits, with 2 minutes of rest in between, three times a week experienced a significant reduction in blood pressure.
It is worth noting that isometric exercises should be combined with other exercise modes to provide a variety of options and benefits. The study's findings challenge the prevailing emphasis on aerobic exercises and offer new insights into alternative approaches to managing high blood pressure.
To determine exercise effectiveness, the researchers analyzed 270 reports published between 1990 and February 2023, involving a total of 15,827 participants. The exercises were categorized into five groups: aerobic, dynamic resistance training, a combination of both, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and isometric exercise. Analysis revealed that all exercise categories contributed to reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. However, isometric exercises, followed closely by running, demonstrated the most significant reductions.
Implications and Debate:
While the study's findings highlight the benefits of isometric exercises for lowering blood pressure, some experts argue that not all individuals may be able to perform these specific exercises or find them enjoyable. Dr. Kush Joshi, a sports and exercise medicine consultant, suggests finding alternative solutions to make these exercises accessible to everyone with elevated blood pressure.
The study's results should also encourage policymakers to prioritize exercise as a fundamental component of treatment for not only high blood pressure but other medical conditions as well. By exploring a wider range of exercise options and tailoring recommendations to individuals' needs, healthcare professionals can provide more inclusive and effective strategies for managing blood pressure.
The study brings attention to the potential benefits of isometric exercises, such as planks and wall sits, for controlling high blood pressure. While traditional recommendations have centered around aerobic exercises, this research sheds light on alternative exercise modes. Nonetheless, it is essential to consider individual capabilities and preferences when prescribing exercise. By promoting exercise as a key element in managing hypertension, healthcare providers and policymakers can contribute to improving overall health outcomes and quality of life.