Drop Blood Pressure
Stretch or Walk for Drop Blood Pressure?
Hypertension, or high blood pressure, refers to the pressure of blood against your artery walls. Over time, high blood pressure can cause blood vessel damage that leads to heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and other problems.
As you enter this New Year, you may have decided to walk more, focus on diet plans for a healthy lifestyle, do more cardio exercise or do more weight lifting for drop blood pressure and reduce risk of cardiac attack. I will ask you to consider adding some stretching and exercises into your daily routine life, especially if you have high blood pressure (hypertension).
Here’s why: New research hints that, for those who are suffering from high blood pressure (hypertension), stretching and walk may be more effective than brisk walking at lowering blood pressure.
“I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it.”
― Pablo Picasso
High blood pressure is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular diseases, which are the number one cause of death globally. In the United States, the management of high blood pressure (hypertension) is the most common reason for office visits to medical professionals (for non-pregnant adults) and chronic prescription medications.
If your blood pressure is extremely high, there may be certain symptoms to look out for, including:
- Severe headaches.
- Fatigue or confusion.
- Vision problems.
- Chest pain.
- Difficulty breathing.
- Irregular heartbeat.
- Blood in the urine.
Up to 46 percent of US adults have high blood pressure. Of equal concern to me is that approximately one-half of these individuals have inadequate blood pressure control.
Now comes new research suggesting that stretching may be more effective than brisk walking at lowering blood pressure among those with hypertension. It seems stretching is not only about your muscles.
You also pull the blood vessels (such as the arteries) that feed into the muscle. Stretch, and you reduce the stiffness of the walls of your arteries. This reduction in wall stiffness leads to less resistance to blood flow. Voila! Lower blood pressure.
Here’s what the researchers did: In the study and research, stretching went head-to-head against brisk walking in an eight-week trial involving people with moderate elevations of blood pressure.
One group did a 30-minute exercise or stretching session five times per week, while the other group members walked briskly for a comparable amount of time. The subjects did not know the purpose of the experiment.
Before and after the eight-week course, researchers recorded the subjects’ blood pressure in three ways:
1. With participants sitting.
2. With participants lying down.
3. Over 24 hours using a portable blood pressure monitor.
Both groups had similar dietary salt intakes. They also had similar physical activity outside of the study. After eight weeks, with blood pressure measurements adjusted to baseline and averaged for each group, the scientists found that:
Those who did stretching had more significant reductions in their blood pressure (compared to the walkers).
So, what interventions can we pursue to lower our blood pressure? There are the usual suspects to target. Try reducing your salt intake, drink less alcohol, focus on Intermittent fasting or diet plans, focus on healthy food, and spend more time with family and friends.
You may want to add stretching to the list. We do not fully understand why stretching works to help lower blood pressure. Still, besides affecting the arterial walls, the slow and controlled breathing that naturally accompanies stretching may help.
The caveats? The study linking stretching to lower blood pressure is small, with only 35 individuals completing the full eight-week program. As well, will stretching have a long-lasting effect? Can you stick with the regimen?
I always aim to show my patients that they can be better tomorrow. I have the same philosophy for myself. I am adding stretching to my usual fitness program.