What is the most effective type of exercise for blood pressure management?
The benefits of physical activity extend far beyond its ability to burn calories. A recent meta-analysis reveals that exercise plays a key role in blood pressure management.
In this meta-analysis, researchers looked at 270 studies with 15,827 participants to compare the antihypertensive effects of different types of exercise.
The meta-analysis evaluated the following five modes of exercise:
- Aerobic exercise
- Dynamic resistance training
- Combined aerobic and resistance training
- High intensity interval training (HIIT)
- Isometric exercise (handgrip exercise, leg extension, wall squats)
The meta-analysis found that all modes of exercise are effective in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, with greater reductions in the hypertensive groups than in the groups with normal baseline blood pressure.
However, the extent of the reduction differed between exercise types.
According to the analysis, isometric training was found to be the most effective way of reducing systolic blood pressure, followed by combined aerobic and resistance training, resistance training, aerobic exercise and high-intensity interval training (HIIT).
Similarly, isometric training was found to be the most effective way of reducing diastolic blood pressure, followed by resistance training, high-intensity interval training (HIIT), combined aerobic and resistance training, and aerobic exercise.
This study highlights the power of exercise in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and in particular isometric exercise, as it emerged as the most effective form of exercise.
Of course, we must remind that the key to any lifestyle intervention is consistency, not what we choose.
So although isometric training was found here to be the most effective way of lowering blood pressure, if we don't like this kind of exercise, the best thing for us would be to find another kind that is more enjoyable.
So, no more excuses! Embrace the power of exercise and keep your blood pressure under control.
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- Edwards JJ, Deenmamode AHP, Griffiths M, Arnold O, Cooper NJ, Wiles JD, O'Driscoll JM. Exercise training and resting blood pressure: a large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials. Br J Sports Med. 2023 Jul 25:bjsports-2022-106503. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-106503. epub ahead of print. PMID: 37491419.