4 Exercises to Manage High Blood Pressure
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 in 3 Americans have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also known as hypertension, is commonly called “the silent killer” as there are few physical symptoms but it dramatically increases your risk for heart disease and stroke. While there is no cure for hypertension, it can be effectively managed through medication, diet, and exercise. Within the past few years, a slew of different exercises have been researched in an attempt to identify the most effective exercise to lower blood pressure. Here are four options that our health coaches recommend.
1. Isometric Exercise
Isometric exercises are stationary training exercises where you hold one position for a period of time (e.g. wall squat, planks, etc.). They can be done as a part of strength training or in many yoga practices as you hold a pose. A meta-analysis study by the Mayo Clinic found that completing isometric exercises 4 times each week over the course of 4 weeks decreased participants’ blood pressure. The effect was comparable to if they would have taken common blood pressure medications!
2. Dance Therapy
Informal exercise, like dancing, can have benefits on your heart health. An article published in the International Journal of Cardiology supported dance therapy as an effective measure of blood pressure control. Participants who attended dance classes for 45-60 minutes, 2-3 times per week were able to significantly lower their blood pressure after just 4-6 weeks.
3. Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercises like running, walking, and biking have been shown to have an impact on blood pressure even when done just once a week. Research in the American Journal of Hypertension found reductions in blood pressure when individuals participated in moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, and no other planned activity, for just 30 minutes each week over the course of 8 weeks.
Going for a swim can be a great way to exercise to take pressure off your joints. In a study from the American Journal of Cardiology, swimming for just 15-20 minutes, 3-4 times per week over 12 weeks was found to significantly lower blood pressure in adults over 50 years old.
With only a dip into the available research on exercise and blood pressure, one trend is apparent: any activity done consistently over time can improve your blood pressure and heart health. Whether you prefer dancing to running or weight training, there is evidence to support the cardiovascular benefits of being active. Any activity can have benefits, but only if you do it consistently, week after week. Choose activities that you enjoy, and work on consistently incorporating them into your week!