This Simple Exercise Lowers Blood Pressure the Most

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Exercise is a proven way to lower blood pressure. But which types of activity do the job best?

Recently, researchers looked at five types of exercise and found that all of them were effective at lowering blood pressure. But some did the job better than others.

Following are the exercise types ranked in order of their ability to keep hypertension at bay, according to findings published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, a publication of the British Medical Association.

1. Isometric exercise

Woman doing a wall squat
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Overall reduction in blood pressure after this type of exercise, compared with non-exercisers:

  • Systolic (top number): 8.24
  • Diastolic (bottom number): 4

As a whole, static isometric exercises were found to be the most effective at keeping blood pressure under control. In this type of workout, you engage muscles but without any type of movement. Planks are one example of an isometric exercise.

The researchers looked at three types of isometric exercises:

  • Handgrip
  • Leg extension
  • Wall squat

The last of these was found to be the most effective at lowering systolic blood pressure.

2. Combination of dynamic resistance and cardio

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Overall reduction in blood pressure after this type of exercise, compared with non-exercisers:

  • Systolic (top number): 6.04
  • Diastolic (bottom number): 2.54

Dynamic resistance training is any type of resistance exercise that includes joint movement with the goal of developing musculoskeletal strength. Examples include typical squats and press-ups and weights.

Cardio exercise is any activity that gets your heart rate up and holds it there. Running, cycling and swimming are prime examples.

The combination of these activities is a potent force for lowering blood pressure, the researchers found.

3. Dynamic resistance

Senior exercise
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Overall reduction in blood pressure after this type of exercise, compared with non-exercisers:

  • Systolic (top number): 4.55
  • Diastolic (bottom number): 3.04

We defined dynamic resistance training in the previous section. For many people, this type of training comes in the form of lifting weights.

4. Aerobic (cardio) exercise

Young couple running in the park
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Overall reduction in blood pressure after this type of exercise, compared with non-exercisers:

  • Systolic (top number): 4.49
  • Diastolic (bottom number): 2.53

If you are huffing and puffing and building up a sweat over an extended and unbroken period, you are likely engaged in cardio exercise. For the recent study, the researchers looked at three types of cardio exercise:

  • Walking
  • Cycling
  • Running

Of the three, cycling barely edged out running as being best at lowering systolic blood pressure.

5. High-intensity interval training (HIIT)

Woman engaged in high-intensity interval training
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Overall reduction in blood pressure after this type of exercise, compared with non-exercisers:

  • Systolic (top number): 4.08
  • Diastolic (bottom number): 2.5

High-intensity interval training — or HIIT for short — includes brief bouts of high-intensity exercise that alternate with short periods when you exercise at a lower intensity to recover.

The researchers looked at two types of HIIT and found the sprint interval training was considerably more effective than aerobic interval training at lowering systolic blood pressure.

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