Do you have high blood pressure? Or are you in danger of developing it? If so, your doctor has likely “prescribed” walking to help keep your numbers in check.
There’s no doubt about it, a regular brisk walk CAN deliver all kinds of health benefits. And that includes helping to coax cranky blood pressure back towards the normal zone.
But University of Saskatchewan researchers have uncovered an even more effective hypertension solution. And just like walking, it’s something that every one of us can do without any special equipment or planning.
In fact, it’s SO easy to do and SO effective you might think it sounds like a bit of a stretch at first. But if you give it a try, it won’t be long before you’re a believer.
STRETCH your way to better blood pressure
The researchers recruited 40 older men and women with an average age of 61. Each of the volunteers had mild, or type 1, hypertension at the start of the study.
Everyone was randomly assigned to one of two groups.
- Brisk walking
- Whole-body stretching
Both groups were asked to do their activity for 30 minutes a day, five days a week, for the eight-week study.
To track their blood pressure, all the volunteers had their pressures checked both before and after the study sitting and lying down as well as with a 24-hour portable monitor.
And much to everyone’s surprise, the simple stretching routine was the clear winner. It resulted in significantly bigger reductions in blood pressure than brisk walking. Making it a no-brainer move for folks battling hypertension.
Stretching is easy AND effective
Stretching is a simple activity anyone can do regardless of age or fitness level. There are routines designed for seniors, chair-stretching workouts, and even in bed options.
I found plenty of free instructional videos on YouTube when I looked. So you can try a few different ones until you land on one you like. Or check out our 8 daily flexibility stretches here. Just be sure to check in with your doc first to get his blessing.
And for folks who want to spice things up a bit, there are stretching sessions designed around using fitness bands. You can score a set for a few bucks on the Amazon or Walmart websites.
Stick to it, and you’re bound to see some results within weeks, just like the study volunteers. But if you already having a walking routine, don’t give it up. Just alternate between the two activities instead.
As I mentioned earlier, brisk walking has a bunch of health benefits. From boosting brain power to keeping your ticker in shape, a regular walking routine is always a good idea.
Plus, it has more of an impact on your body composition than stretching alone. And the new study confirmed that as well. The folks in the walking group lost more belly fat than the stretchers.
So aim for the best of both worlds. A combination of the two easy-to-adopt routines is your best bet for overall fitness AND better blood pressure.