Hypertension reduced by stretching


A new University of Saskatchewan (USask) study has found that stretching is superior to brisk walking for reducing blood pressure in people with hypertension or who are at risk of developing elevated blood pressure levels.

Walking has been the prescription of choice for physicians trying to help their patients bring down their blood pressure. High blood pressure (hypertension) is a leading risk factor for cardiovascular disease and also one of the top preventable risk factors impacting general mortality.

This new finding, published in the Journal of Physical Activity and Health, shows that stretching should be part of a well-rounded treatment plan for people wrestling with hypertension.

“Everyone thinks that stretching is just about stretching your muscles,” said kinesiology professor Dr. Phil Chilibeck (PhD), a co-author of the study. “But when you stretch your muscles, you’re also stretching all the blood vessels that feed into the muscle, including all the arteries. If you reduce the stiffness in your arteries, there’s less resistance to blood flow,” he said, noting that resistance to blood flow increases blood pressure.

While previous studies have revealed stretching can decrease blood pressure, the USask research is the first to pit walking against stretching in a head-to-head contrast at the same group of study participants.

Chilibeck and colleagues randomly assigned 40 older men and women (mean age 61) into 2 groups for its eight-week study interval: one did a whole-body stretching pattern for 30 minutes every day, five days a week, and the other team walked briskly for the same period of frequency and time. All participants had raised blood pressure, or stage 1 hypertension, at the start of the study.

Before and after the analysis, Chilibeck and colleagues measured participants’ blood pressure while they’re sitting, lying down, and more than 24 hours using a mobile monitor–widely considered the gold standard for accurate blood pressure measurement. Stretching led to larger cuts in hypertension over all three kinds of measurement. The walkers did, but lose more body fat off their midsection in the eight-week study.

People that are walking to reduce their hypertension should continue to do so, but also add in some stretching sessions, according to Chilibeck.

“I don’t want people to come away from our research thinking they shouldn’t be doing some form of aerobic activity. Things like walking, biking, or cross- country skiing all have a positive effect on body fat, cholesterol levels, and blood sugar.”

While the study protocol had participants with hypertension stretching for 30 minutes In a time, Chilibeck suspects the same benefits can be accomplished by performing a shorter routine that emphasizes the larger muscle groups in the thighs , especially the quadriceps and hamstrings. Yoga produces similar reductions in blood pressure he explained.

The beauty of stretching, stated Chilibeck, is that it’s so easy to incorporate into a person’s daily routine. You’re not at the mercy of the weather and it’s easy on your joints, a big plus for individuals with osteoarthritis. And it does not need a big commitment of time, another barrier to work out for many men and women. “When you’re relaxing in the evening, instead of just sitting on the couch, you can get down on the floor and stretch while you’re watching TV,” he said.

Chilibeck and coworkers are now seeking funding to do a larger analysis involving more participants with hypertension. They’d like to expand the scope past blood pressure measurement to research a few of the physiological reasons behind why stretching reduces blood pressure such as arterial stiffness and changes in the human body’s nervous system resulting from stretching.

Related Journal Article: https://journals.humankinetics.com/view/journals/jpah/18/1/article-p21.xml

Categories: Health Life