Isometric resistance training can safely lower blood pressure

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A new meta-analysis of 24 primary studies reexamines the effectiveness of this form of exercise and assesses its safety.

The study findings suggest that IRT is both safe and effective in lowering blood pressure.
ResearchTrusted Source has suggested that IRT may reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

However, concerns about its safety have stopped doctors from widely prescribing it. The concerns stem from the fact that IRT can increase blood pressure during exercise, especially when it involves large muscle groups or is high in intensity.

Researchers from the University of New South Wales (UNSW) in Sydney, Australia, recently led a new analysis of previous studies to explore the question of IRT’s safety.

The meta-analysis suggests that IRT can safely lower blood pressure and may even be safer than other forms of exercise for some people.

The senior author of the study, Dr. Matthew Jones, is an accredited exercise physiologist and lecturer in the School of Health Sciences, Faculty of Medicine & Health at UNSW.

Dr. Jones explains, “IRT is a time-efficient means of reducing blood pressure, needing only 12 minutes a day, 2 to 3 days per week to produce the effects we found in our review.”
IRT involves applying tension to muscles without movement of the surrounding joints.

For instance, a person contracts a muscle or muscle group and holds it in place for a specified period.

“While the studies included in our review normally used a specialized handgrip device,” says Dr. Jones, “it’s possible we would see the same effects simply by asking participants to make a fist and squeeze it at a certain intensity for the prescribed amount of time. This means IRT could easily be performed while participants are sitting down watching TV.”

The researchers included 24 randomized control trials in their analysis, which involved 1,143 participants with an average age of 56 years.

Of the total group, 56% were female.High-normal blood pressure: A systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 130–139 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg).

The researchers only included IRT trials that had lasted at least 3 weeks, which previous research suggests is the minimum length of time to produce a blood pressure change.

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