Stretching may do as well as if not better than brisk walking to lower blood pressure if you have hypertension or are at risk for high blood pressure, according to a new study recently published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health. Led by the University of Saskatchewan (Canada), this suggests add stretching to the management of patients with hypertension, in addition to or instead of walking.
“Everyone thinks that stretching is just about stretching the muscles.”Said Dr. Phil Chilibeck, study co-author and professor of kinesiology. “But when you stretch your muscles, you also stretch all the blood vessels that supply the muscle, including all arteries. If you reduce the stiffness of your arteries, there is less resistance to the blood flow”, He added, specifying that the resistance to the blood circulation increases the blood pressure, and, in fine, cardiovascular risks.
The researchers here randomly assigned 40 men and women with an average age of 61 to two separate groups over a period of eight weeks. The first group did 30 minutes of stretching per day, five days a week, while the second did a brisk walk for the same amount of time and at the same frequency. All participants had high blood pressure, or stage 1 hypertension (i.e. systolic pressure between 140-159 mmHg and/or diastolic blood pressure> 90-99 mmHg) at the start of the study, specify the researchers.
Before and after the stretching and brisk walking routine, the scientists measured the blood pressure of the participants, while sitting, lying down and for more than 24 hours in a row using a portable device.
Verdict: the stretching routine resulted in greater reductions in blood pressure than brisk walking, and this during the three types of measurements (sitting, standing, and over 24 hours). The walkers, however, lost more body fat from the waistline than the participants in the stretch group. Also, hypertensive people who have a habit of walking should continue this practice, but add a few stretching sessions for more benefits.
Dr. Chilibeck suspects that the same benefits could be achieved by performing a shorter stretching routine than in this study, though it emphasizes the larger ones. leg muscle groups, especially the quadriceps and hamstrings. As for yoga, it produces similar reductions in blood pressure, he assured, pointing out that stretching is exercise that is easy to integrate into your daily routine. Especially since it is a gentle activity for the joints, an asset in cases of osteoarthritis.