Wall Squats and Planks Best at Lowering Blood Pressure

London: Strength-training exercises such as wall squats or holding the plank position are among the best ways to lower blood pressure, a study suggests.

Current guidance focusing mainly on walking, running and cycling should be updated, researchers from the United Kingdom (UK) say.

Analysis, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, of trials involving 16,000 people found all exercise lowered high blood pressure, BBC news reported..

But wall squats and planking led to larger falls than aerobic exercise. These isometric exercises are designed to build strength without moving muscles or joints.

The plank position, which resembles a press-up, with elbows directly beneath shoulders, legs stretched out behind, strengthens the abdomen. Wall squats involve positioning the feet 2ft (60cm) from a wall and sliding the back down it until the thighs are parallel to the ground.

Isometric exercises place a very different stress on the body to aerobic exercise, said study author Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll, from Canterbury Christ Church University.

“They increase the tension in the muscles when held for two minutes, then cause a sudden rush of blood when you relax,” he added.

“This increases the blood flow, but you must remember to breathe,” he explained.

High blood pressure puts strain on the blood vessels, heart and other organs, increasing the risk of conditions such as heart attacks and strokes. Treatment often involves medication, but patients are also advised to eat healthily, reduce alcohol intake, stop smoking and exercise regularly.

Over-40s are advised to have their blood pressure checked every five years.

The pressure of blood in the arteries is measured in millimetres of mercury (mmHg). Below 130/85mmHg is healthy while more than 140/90 mmHg is high, according to the study.

The higher number equates to pressure of blood in the arteries when the heart beats, known as systolic blood pressure.

The lower number is pressure between beats and known as diastolic blood pressure.

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