For those who aren’t all that keen on elevating their heart rate – this one’s for you! A groundbreaking new study has shown that strength exercises are far more effective than cardiovascular exercises when it comes to managing your blood pressure. High blood pressure – also known as hypertension – affects millions of people around the world and is a major risk factor for a range of cardiovascular ailments – from stroke, to heart disease to vascular dementia – so this discovery could have a huge impact on human health.
Until now, the prevailing wisdom held that aerobic exercises such as running, swimming and cycling were the best way to maintain healthy blood pressure. But the results of the research- an analysis of 270 previous studies – clearly demonstrated that strength exercises produced more significant reductions in blood pressure than their aerobic counterparts.
The findings shed light on the potential benefits of resistance training in improving heart health and could radically transform the treatment of hypertension. Strength exercises, which can involve lifting weights, using resistance bands or calisthenic exercises using just your body weight, may offer unique physiological adaptations that lead to greater reductions in blood pressure.
The theory goes that the contracting of muscles during resistance training cause blood vessels to dilate, promoting better blood flow and reducing pressure on arterial walls. What’s more, the increased muscle mass you get from strength and resistance training may enhance overall metabolic health – which leads to better blood pressure regulation.
While more research is needed to fully understand the mechanisms behind these results, the study highlights the importance of incorporating strength exercises into our fitness routines, especially for those with hypertension or at risk of developing it.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you should ditch your aerobic exercise – it still has a myriad health benefits of course! And as always, if you have an underlying health condition, consult your GP or health consultant before taking on a new routine.