Exercise is considered one of the best ways to treat and prevent high blood pressure.1 Hypertension (high blood pressure) is the most common medical disorder and affects 1 in 4 men and 1 in 5 women worldwide.2 It is considered a major risk factor for cardiovascular disorders and other diseases. Many people don’t even know they have it. It is important to know your blood pressure numbers and practice a healthy lifestyle. Exercise has both long term and immediate benefits on our cardiovascular health. A single session of movement improves not only blood pressure but also insulin sensitivity, anxiety, depression, and sleep. But how much do we need, and is stretching enough? Read on to find out.
How Much Exercise is Enough?
The US Department of Health and Human Services updated their recommendations in 2021 to include 150 minutes per week of movement.1 That’s just 30 minutes of movement, 5 days per week. The best way to ensure that you will reach 150 minutes of movement per week is to choose a workout you enjoy, and luckily, our Essentrics Heart Health program helps you achieve that target with ease! And the best type of activity found to lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension? Low-to-moderate intensity aerobic activity, as well as moderate strength training and stretching – both of which are found in Essentrics workouts! Stronger muscles improve our endurance so that we can enjoy moving more each day.
Stretching & Blood Pressure
Don’t discount the power of our all-floor stress release workouts! Exciting research has shown that as we stretch muscles, we also stretch the blood vessels and arteries – making them more elastic and less stiff.3 Think of a hose being able to deliver more water when it is not plugged up with sediment or stiff with kinks. Another benefit of stretching is that the lining of the arteries becomes stronger and less prone to damage or becoming stiff and rigid. And where there is arterial stiffness, the body has to increase the pressure needed for blood flow… leading to hypertension (high blood pressure). Researchers found that in individuals with moderately elevated hypertension, stretching for 30 minutes 5 days per week was more effective compared to the same amount of brisk walking.4 This study also concluded that brisk walking more effectively lowered body fat, blood sugar and cholesterol than static stretching alone, and encouraged continuing to do aerobic activity (like a more vigorous Essentrics workout!) along with stretching. As an added bonus, our use of relaxation and deep breathing in each and every workout lowers stress, which helps reduce high blood pressure.
The more we move, the better for our heart health! A sustainable movement program that you enjoy (like Essentrics!) will motivate you to move your body and improve your quality of life.
Contributing Writer Dr. Nanette Tummers
1. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee Scientific Report. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2018.
2. World Health Organization. WHO guidelines on physical activity and sedentary behavior. 2020
3. Kato M, Nihei Green F, Hotta K, Tsukamoto T, Kurita Y, Kubo A, Takagi H. The Efficacy of Stretching Exercises on Arterial Stiffness in Middle-Aged and Older Adults: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized and Non-Randomized Controlled Trials. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Aug 5;17(16):5643.
4. Ko, J., Deprez, D., Shaw, K., Alcorn, J., Hadjistavropoulos, T., Tomczak, C., Foulds, H., & Chilibeck, P. D. (2021). Stretching is Superior to Brisk Walking for Reducing Blood Pressure in People with High–Normal Blood Pressure or Stage I Hypertension, Journal of Physical Activity and Health, 18(1), 21-28