Like every beginning of the year, good resolutions concerning sport and well-being are legion. A new study could guide you in your choices. According to this scientific work, stretching, that is to say stretching exercises, would be more effective than brisk walking in lowering blood pressure in hypertension.
“Everyone thinks that stretching only allows you to stretch your muscles”, explains Philip D. Chilibeck, a specialist in biomechanics and kinesiology at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada and author of the study. “However, when you stretch your muscles, you also stretch your blood vessels that supply the muscle, as well as all the arteries”, adds the researcher. This reduces arterial stiffness, which decreases the resistance of the blood flow and can therefore lower blood pressure.
Having high blood pressure is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, leading cause of death worldwide. It is advisable to reduce salt intake, to drink lessalcohol and, according to the recent study, therefore, to do stretching exercises.
Stretching, a new remedy?
Previous research had already shown that stretching can improve blood circulation in individuals, especially pregnant women. In addition, performing stretching exercises strengthens our connective tissues, improves our flexibility and helps our body adapt to more demanding sports exercises.
For the new study, the research team wanted to compare the effects on blood pressure of stretching exercises and brisk walking, thanks to an eight-week program bringing together nearly forty people aged around 61, including blood pressure was moderately elevated. While one group was to do stretching sessions for thirty minutes five times a week, the other participants were instructed to practice brisk walking for a similar amount of time.
Before and after the eight-week program, each participant’s blood pressure was measured in three different ways: at time T in the sitting and lying positions, and over a twenty-four hour period using a portable blood pressure monitor.
After the eight weeks were over, the scientists finally noticed that the blood pressure of people who did the stretching sessions fell more than that of those who walked fast. “The findings are important because they give people more possibilities to reduce their blood pressure”, assures the research team. The study is however still limited, due to the small number of participants.