Exercises To Lower Blood Pressure?
Updated: May 23
What exercises work best to lower blood pressure?
My cousin, like many of us, had to spend more time over the last few years at home as a result of the Coronavirus lockdown. She realised also that her blood pressure had gotten out of the normal range during that time. She likes walking so spending more time in the nearby park produced some positive results. She shared with me recently that it was stretching, however, which helped her to bring blood pressure under control.
What is the best exercise for high blood pressure?
There is lots of research that shows that aerobic exercises like brisk walking, jogging, cycling or swimming are the most impactful exercises when it comes to bringing blood pressure down. Somewhat puzzled by my cousin's observation, I decided to do more research and came across a recent research paper.
This paper indeed demonstrated that 30 minutes of stretching on 5 days of the week led to better reduction in blood pressure than a 30-minute walk on 5 days of the week .
Stretching to lower blood pressure
The paper was published in the Human Kinetics Journal. The research was co-authored by Dr. Phil Chilibeck, professor of kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, Canada.
"Everyone thinks that stretching is just about stretching your muscles," said Dr Chilibeck, "But when you stretch your muscles, you're also stretching all the blood vessels that feed into the muscle, including all the arteries."
This reduces the stiffness in the arteries, there's less resistance to blood flow, and this may result in lower blood pressure. Stretching also strengthens connective tissue, improves flexibility, and helps our bodies adapt to increasing exercise workload.
Previous studies have shown that stretching could improve blood flow to muscles and tissues. One research also found stretching was a more effective way than walking for women with normal blood pressure to reduce blood pressure during pregnancy .
Dr. Chilibeck emphasises that people, who already walk to reduce their high blood pressure should continue to do so. However, he recommends that they consider incorporating stretching sessions into their daily routine.
Stretching enhances positive effects of walking
Many subscribers ask me: Does stretching lower blood pressure? Here is what science has to say on this topic. Researchers randomly assigned 40 males and females, averaging 61 years old, to 30 minutes of either stretching exercises or brisk walking. The study participants did their assigned exercise on 5 days of the week for a total of 8 weeks.
All participants had either high-normal blood pressure, or stage I hypertension. The stretching program comprised 21 stretching exercises. The researchers asked the participants in the walking part of the research program to monitor their pulse to 65% of the maximal heart rate for their age. This heart rate level falls under the definition of brisk walking.
In total, the team took 12 different measures of blood pressure for each participant. Compared with brisk walking, stretching was associated with larger reductions in blood pressure across five of the 12 measurements.