From The New York Times
Ask Well: The Best Exercise to Reduce Blood Pressure
What is the best exercise to control high blood pressure?
Take your pick, as the best exercise to control high blood pressure seems to be virtually any exercise, like walking or cycling or light weight training, especially if your workouts are spread throughout the day.
“Even standing might work,” said Glenn Gaesser, the director of the Healthy Lifestyles Research Center at Arizona State University and an expert on exercise and hypertension.
Exercise lowers blood pressure in large part by altering blood vessel stiffness so blood flows more freely. This effect occurs during and immediately after a workout, so the blood-pressure benefits from exercise are most pronounced right after you work out.
As a result, the best way to fight hypertension may be to divvy up your workout into bite-size pieces. In a 2012 study by Dr. Gaesser, three 10-minute walks spread throughout the day were better at preventing subsequent spikes in blood pressure — which can indicate worsening blood pressure control — than one 30-minute walk. And if even a 10-minute walk sounds daunting, try standing more often. In another study led by Dr. Gaesser and published in August, overweight volunteers with blood pressure problems were asked to sit continuously during an eight-hour workday while their blood pressure was monitored. The readings were, as expected, unhealthy.
But when, during another workday, those volunteers stood up every hour for at least 10 minutes, their blood pressure readings improved substantially.
The readings were even better when, on additional workdays, the volunteers strolled at a pokey 1-mile-per-hour pace at treadmill desks for at least 10 minutes every hour or pedaled under-desk exercise bikes for the same number of minutes every hour.
“Exercise intensity does not appear to play any significant role” in helping people control blood pressure, Dr. Gaesser said. Movement is what matters. So go for a stroll a few times during the day or simply stand up more often to develop healthier blood pressure.