What is better for reducing hypertension: stretching or walking? According to a new study, regular stretching exercises are associated with larger reductions in blood pressure than brisk walks.
The study found that 30 minutes of stretching on 5 days of the week helps improve blood pressure while a 30-minute walk on 5 days of the week is less effective. It suggests that people should do aerobic exercise as it has many health benefits.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that hypertension affects 45% of adults — equating to 108 million people — in the United States. They also note that in 2018, hypertension was the leading cause of nearly half a million deaths.
People with hypertension are at higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease, eye damage, and vascular dementia.
Doctors usually suggest aerobic exercise to reduce blood pressure. However, some research has shown that stretching could help to balance blood pressure by reducing the stiffness of arteries and improving blood flow.
The new study findings revealed that stretching was more effective in reducing blood pressure compared with brisk walking. The researchers could investigate the possible physiological mechanisms behind stretching’s effect on blood pressure.
“If a stretching exercise can, indeed, reduce blood pressure, it would allow an additional option for people who need to reduce blood pressure or it could be added to aerobic exercise routines to provide greater reduction in blood pressure,” The authors conclude. They also note that yoga and Pilates involving a lot of stretching also reduces blood pressure.