MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – If you’re trying to lower your blood pressure, try isometrics when you’re sitting at home or work. Researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine studied the effects of isometric exercise on blood pressure, an important cardiovascular disease risk factor in adults.
George A. Kelley, D.A., and Kristi S. Kelley, M.Ed., of the WVU Department of Community Medicine, pooled the results from multiple studies about isometric exercise—a resistance type of exercise with little or no joint movement. The studies showed that this kind of exercise lowered systolic and diastolic blood pressure. High levels of either of these increase the risk for heart disease and stroke.
“While there needs to be additional research, these findings offer a potentially promising alternative for those interested in lowering their blood pressure,” George Kelley said.
In the study, the isometric exercise consisted of squeezing a hand-held device, in one or both hands, three times per week. A significant reduction, approximately 10 percent in both resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure, was found. When compared to the effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure, the decreases were about four times greater for systolic blood pressure and three times greater for diastolic blood pressure.
Almost one-third of adults have high blood pressure. Statistics from a U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey show that 29 percent of adults have high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. An additional 28 percent have an early form of high blood pressure known as prehypertension.
The study appeared in the March issue of the “Journal of Hypertension,” the official research journal of the International Society of Hypertension and the European Society of Hypertension.