Exercises like planks and wall squats may be the most effective for lowering blood pressure, according to a study published on August 1 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
According to Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy, an exercise that involves a static muscular contraction is called an isometric exercise. This indicates that even when the targeted muscle group is under strain and produces a contraction, the muscle doesn't lengthen. As a result, the affected joints are immobile.
Per study co-author Jamie O'Driscoll of Canterbury Christ Church University in England, isometric exercise training is the most efficient method to lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
Current recommendations for blood pressure management, which focus on aerobic or cardio exercises like running or cycling, are helpful but also based on outdated research that disregards more recently adopted exercise protocols like high-intensity interval training and isometric training, according to the authors.
"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."- O'Driscoll
The researchers examined 270 randomized controlled studies with 15,827 individuals documenting the effects of exercise programs, lasting two or more weeks, on systolic and diastolic blood pressure between 1990 and February 2023, as they believed the guidelines were outdated and needed reassessment.
The authors determined healthy resting blood pressure to be less than 130 over 85 mmHg, pre-high blood pressure between 130/85 mmHg and 139/89 mmHG, and high blood pressure to 140/90 mmHg or more. The top numbers represent systolic pressure, while the bottom numbers represent diastolic pressure.
The CDC says systolic blood pressure measures the highest pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts and relaxes. In contrast, diastolic blood pressure indicates arterial pressure while the heart rests between beats.
What exercises are best for lowering blood pressure?
The scientists discovered that among high-intensity interval training (HIIT), isometric exercise, aerobic exercise, dynamic resistance training, and a combination of the latter two, isometric exercise led to the most significant decreases in blood pressure.
Running was the most helpful for lowering diastolic pressure while performing wall squats was most beneficial in lowering systolic pressure. However, overall, isometric exercise was best for reducing both pressure components.
The authors noted that more study is required to pinpoint why isometric exercises may be superior to other forms of training when wanting to lower blood pressure.
- British Journal of Sports Medicine. Exercise training and resting blood pressure: a large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials.
- Sport & Spinal Physiotherapy. Top 7 Isometric Exercises and Why We Should all be Doing Them!
- CDC. High Blood Pressure Symptoms and Causes.