Reduce blood pressure without getting out of your chair? It may be possible -- if you do a little squeezing while you sit.
Isometric exercises, the kind where you contract large muscles without actually moving the body part, may help reduce blood pressure in healthy people, a study shows. And something as simple as squeezing your inner thigh muscles together while you sit would qualify.
A Dramatic Descent
That's right. Isometric exercises can be done anytime, anywhere, and they don't require you to bend or lift. In a handful of studies, folks with normal blood pressure who did three 15- to 20-minute sessions of isometric exercises every week for 10 weeks experienced more than a 10-point plunge in their systolic blood pressure. And their diastolic pressure fell almost 7 points. Not bad for not lifting a finger! Simple things like doing a static hand grip, flexing the butt muscles, or doing leg squeezes all count. In the research, the three weekly sessions included doing multiple 2-minute rounds of isometric exercises like those, with 1 to 3 minute rests in between. (Try this no-sit-up isometric move to flatten your belly fast.)
Not for People with High Blood Pressure
It's super important to note that people with high blood pressure need to speak with a doctor before beginning any exercise program -- but especially one involving isometric exercises. In people who have hypertension, isometric exercises could cause a dangerous spike in blood pressure. For more ways to reduce blood pressure safely and effectively, check out this advice:
- Keep tabs. Learn why accurate blood pressure monitoring is so important.
- Ditch the salt. Use this easy-to-use cheat sheet for low-sodium cooking.
- Walk a bit. See how a walk can quickly lower your blood pressure.
Have high blood pressure? Here's a doctor discussion guide to take to your next appointment.