Lowering Blood Pressure And Exercise Training

Anti-Aging Medicine
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According to a study recently published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, static isometric exercises that involve engaging muscles without movement like planks and wall sits are best for helping to lower blood pressure. However, scientists from Canterbury Christ Church University and the University of Leicester have found that cardio/aerobic exercises, HIIT workouts, and dynamic resistance training exercises like lifting weights, press-ups, and squats are all effective at helping to lower blood pressure to varying degrees.

Previous research shows that exercise in general is associated with significant reductions in blood pressure with aerobic exercise activities like walking, running, and cycling being the typical types of activities primarily recommended for managing blood pressure in most cases. This recommendation is based on older data that excludes newer forms of exercise like HIIT and isometric exercise, which could mean, according to the researchers, that current recommendations/guidelines for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure are probably outdated and it may be time to review them.

To help update available information on the best forms of exercise for controlling blood pressure the team searched numerous databases for clinical trials investigating the effects of exercise training interventions on resting blood pressure with a duration of two weeks or longer. Exercise interventions were classified as aerobic/cardio, dynamic resistance training, HIIT, isometric, and a combination of these. 

Healthy resting blood pressure was defined as being below 130/85 mmHG, pre-high blood pressure as 130-139/85-89 mmHG, and high blood pressure as 140/90 mmHG or greater. The first number of a reading is called systolic blood pressure, and it measures arterial pressure when the heart beats, the second number is the diastolic pressure and it measures arterial pressure between beats. 

270 randomized controlled trials were included in the final analysis with a pooled data sample size of 15,827 participants. The analysis showed significant reductions in both resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure after isometric exercise training amounting to 4.49/ 2.53 mmHg; 4.55/3.04 mm Hg after dynamic resistance training; 6.04/2.54 mmHg after combined training; 4.08/2.50 mmHg after HIIT; and 8.24/4 mmHg after isometric exercise training.

Analysis revealed that isometric exercise training was found to be 98% effective for reducing systolic blood pressure, combined training was 76% effective, dynamic resistance training was 46%, aerobic exercise training was 40.5%, and HITT was 39% effective for reducing systolic blood pressure. 

Wall squats (isometric) and running (aerobic) were found to be the most effective individual exercises for reducing systolic blood pressure at 90.5% and 91% diastolic blood pressure, with overall isometric exercise being the most effective for reducing both blood pressure readings. 

The study was not without limitations such as variations in the types of participants across the clinical trials, as well as differences in statistical and methodological processes and exercise interventions which may have influenced these results. 

Despite the limitations, the researchers concluded that “Overall, isometric exercise training is the most effective mode in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. 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.”

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