If your annual checkup typically ends with your doctor reminding you yet again to work on lowering your blood pressure, here’s something new to consider.
Conventional wisdom holds that aerobic or cardio exercise is the best way to lower your BP.
But new British research suggests what might be a better way.
Exercises that engage muscles without movement — called isometric or static — appear best for lowering hypertension, a condition characterized by the heart working too hard to move blood through the body.
The study pored through about 270 exercise clinical trials involving more than 15,000 exercisers and found that isometrics were more effective at lowering blood pressure, topping high-intensity interval training, aerobic exercise and dynamic resistance training.
Here are two basic isometric exercises to try, if you’re healthy:
Stand with your back flat against a wall, then move your feet about 1½ feet out in front of you, shoulder-width apart. With your back still flat to the wall, tighten your abs, inhale and then exhale as you squat as low as you comfortably can. Stay there until your thigh muscles begin to hate you, then inhale as you stand up. Do 10 wall squats three times a week.
To plank, start by lying face down. Place your elbows directly under your shoulders. Keep feet hip-width apart, making sure your back is flat, your head and neck neutral. Lift your hips, squeezing your quads, glutes and core. Your body should be plank-straight. Hold about 10 to 30 seconds and increase the time until you can hold the plank longer. But beyond 2 minutes offers no extra benefit.
Try them out. You’re likely to impress at your next checkup.