Lower blood pressure with exercise

Different types of exercise benefit people more depending on their blood pressure.

People with high blood pressure are told to exercise more but guidelines are vague about the kind of exercise required.

A new study has sought to figure out exactly what types of exercise are most beneficial when it comes to lowering blood pressure.

Until this research, recommendations have focused on the amount of physical activity to lower blood pressure, not the variety.

Published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the study aimed to find the best exercises for people with high blood pressure, high-normal blood pressure and normal blood pressure.

“The goal of the recommendations for all three groups is primarily to lower blood pressure,” said lead author Professor Henner Hanssen of the University of Basel, Switzerland.

“Ultimately, through blood pressure reduction, we can reduce the risk of heart attack, stroke and death from cardiovascular disease — thereby spending more years of life in good health.”

The study

Researchers completed a meta-analysis son 34 previous studies, including only the highest-quality evidence. The new study sought to create a consensus document on how best to lower blood pressure through exercise.

The results showed that different types of exercise work better for people depending on their blood pressure.

For those with high blood pressure (hypertension), the most effective type of training is aerobic exercise. This includes running, walking and cycling.

Conversely, people with high-normal blood pressure benefit more from dynamic resistance training. This refers to strength training using free weights, body weight and machines.

When it comes to people with normal blood pressure, they benefit most from isometric resistance training. This means using static contraction of the muscles, such as handgrip exercises.

In addition, the blood pressure lowering effects of exercise were found to be similar to taking a dose of antihypertensive medicine.

“For most exercises, the blood pressure lowering effect lasts for about 24 hours, similar to medication, so it’s best to be active every day if possible,” said Professor Hanssen.

Studies like these continually show that exercise is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. It’s step forward to be seeing evidence of the benefits of particular types of exercise. The authors of the current study believe evidence like this will encourage doctors to prescribe physical activity to patients suffering high blood pressure.


Hanssen, H. et al (2021.) ‘Personalized exercise prescription in the prevention and treatment of arterial hypertension: a Consensus Document from the European Association of Preventive Cardiology (EAPC) and the ESC Council on Hypertension.’ European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, zwaa141, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurjpc/zwaa141

Published: 24 March 2021

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