Wednesday May 29, 2024

High blood pressure strength training may help lower your risk

April 14, 2024
This representational image shows a healthcare worker checking the blood pressure of a patient. — Unsplash/File
This representational image shows a healthcare worker checking the blood pressure of a patient. — Unsplash/File

ISLAMABAD: A recent study published in Scientific Reports has found that strength training two to three times per week can be used as an effective treatment for arterial hypertension commonly known as high blood pressure.

The researcher s from School of Technology and Sciences Sao Paulo State University UNESP in Brazil looked at data from 14 studies featuring 253 participants.

What the study found

The average age of the participants was just over 59 and in the majority of the studies participants were already using medications to treat their hypertension.

One of the key findings of the analysis was that strength training can reduce hypertension in a wide rage of ages with the biggest changes coming for those aged 18 50.

The research team found that the most effective plan for study participants was when they trained twice a week for at least eight weeks.

They also found the effects of strength training may take more time to appear.

They found that the positive effects of strength training showed up later (at approximately the 20th training session) than they did when the focus was on aerobic exercises (10 sessions). This led to the conclusion that more work should be done to figure out why strength training reduces blood pressure at a molecular level.

Focus on strength training instead of just aerobic exercise Despite strength training being known as a treatment option for people with high blood pressure Dr Sara K. Rosenkranz (PhD) an associate professor in the University of Nevada Las Vegas department of kinesiology and nutrition sciences says that there are still many in the field who may be unaware of its benefits often do to previous advice given to professionals.

I think that there are just still plenty of people out there who aren’t aware of the actual benefits associated with strength training for blood pressure. Not only prevention but people who actually have hypertension already.

The new findings are in line with the current recommendations of the American Heart Association.

Rosenkranz says that she is among the group that was taught that strength training could be harmful because of the blood pressure risks associated with certain types of weight training. Meanwhile Dr. Dan Makowski (DO) a clinical cardiologist at Lehigh Valley Heart and Vascular Institute feels that other forms of exercise are more commonly understood as being applicable for those with high blood pressure.

I think traditionally most people think about exercise more in the aerobic sense whether it’s walking jogging running biking. Getting your heart rate up for a period of time and then [it] coming down as a means of controlling your blood pressure.

How to lower blood pressure

Dr. Fahmi Farah (MD) of Bentley Health says that studies like this one can give cardiologists like her another tool when speaking to those they support.

We of course always knew that exercise helps with minimizing and reducing the risk of cardiovascular disease but this just gives us more strength and data to talk about [it] to provide evidence to our patients and refer them to go and see it [the benefits] for themselves.

However Farah and her colleagues in the field are mindful of the fact that strength training whether it’s because of health risks or inaccessibility due to finances or location. Is not available to everyone.

I would say that at a population level at a country level at a government level I think the help needs to come from higher up to where we can make it more feasible for everybody to be able to afford working out.

Makowski says that even for those who are able to work out it’s important for them not to get overly ambitious or push themselves beyond their capacity.

There’s different levels of strength training it’s not always what we think about like someone bench pressing a ton of weight it’s elastic bands it’s mild weights with dumbbells it’s isometric exercises where you are using your own bodyweight.

However each expert Healthline spoke to for this story recommended the same thing before getting started with weight training as an intervention for high blood pressure make sure you have spoken with your medical provider.