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Blood pressure is best lowered by isometric, or static, exercise

Isometric exercises can be done with weights or without, just relying on the body’s own weight.

“Overall, isometric exercise training is the most effective mode in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure,” said study coauthor Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll in a news release. He is a reader in cardiovascular physiology at Canterbury Christ Church University’s School of Psychology and Life Sciences in England.

“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.”

Best exercise for blood pressure

Existing guidelines on exercise for blood pressure management — which emphasize aerobic or cardio exercises such as running or cycling — are effective but also based on old research that excludes more recently adopted exercise protocols such as high-intensity interval training and isometric training, the authors said.

The researchers felt the guidelines were outdated and in need of review, so they looked into randomized controlled trials that had reported the effects of exercise interventions, lasting two or more weeks, on systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure between 1990 and February 2023.

Systolic blood pressure measures the maximum pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and relaxes, while diastolic blood pressure denotes what the arterial pressure is when the heart rests between beats, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Performing wall squats (isometric exercise) was most effective for reducing systolic pressure, and running (aerobic exercise) was most beneficial for decreasing diastolic pressure, but isometric exercise overall was best for lowering both pressure elements.

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