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Clench your fist to help lower your blood pressure

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You don’t have to sweat it out at the gym to control your blood pressure—a special type of exercise where you’re sitting at your desk could work just as well.

Isometric resistance training (IRT) is as effective as aerobic and dynamic resistance exercises in controlling blood pressure levels if you’re hypertensive, a new study has found.

IRT is a form of strength training where you push against a wall, squeeze your fist or hold out a heavy object with both arms while sitting down—and for that reason it was always thought to be dangerous for people with high blood pressure.

But researchers from the University of South Wales have discovered it is safe and effective, and it is something that everyone can do.  Just 12 minutes a day for two to three days a week is enough to keep high blood pressure under control.

Although the researchers used a specialized handgrip for their tests, they think that a simple fist-and-squeeze action could work just as well and could even be done while sitting down and watching television.

IRT also has knock-on benefits.  It reduces central blood pressure, the pressure in the aorta, the heart’s largest artery, and ambulatory pressure, the average level when walking.

Far from being dangerous, the researchers found that there were fewer adverse reactions than might be seen in other types of exercise.  “This makes IRT a very appealing mode of exercise, especially in those with mobility restrictions who may not be able to do other exercises like aerobic,” said researcher Matthew Jones.

(Source: Hypertension Research, 2021; doi: 10.1038/s41440-021-00720-3)

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