Physical activity can help lower high blood pressure.  We have known this for years.  Recently, researchers have found that one particular type of exercise is particularly good at lowering blood pressure. A program of isometric exercises has the greatest impact of reducing both systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) pressure.  Isometric exercises showed bigger gains than aerobic, resistance, and /or interval training.

Flexing your muscles and holding that position is an isometric exercise. Holding a position in a yoga class is a good example of an isometric exercise.  When holding an isometric pose, your straining muscles constricts the surrounding blood vessels.  This causes a pinching of the blood flow and a build up of anaerobic metabolites, which inhibits the flow of oxygen.  When you release the muscles, the blood flow is will flush out the mess created by holding everything back.  This rush of blood cells creates a situation that causes blood vessels to dilate resulting in a lowering of blood pressure.  Although this is only a local reaction, research has shown this to have a whole body effect in blood pressure.

Exercises that were included in the research were, wall squats, leg extensions, and handgrip squeeze. Other isometric exercises may offer the same benefits. Holding that position for 2 minutes and repeating in succession works the best. This 2 minute hold requirement is why activities such as lifting heavy weights, running, and most other activities that flex muscles for a very should period of time does not have the same effect.

If you have high blood pressure, add isometric exercise to your existing exercise routine.  You do not need a lot of room, or a gym membership to do them.  You can do many isometric exercises while sitting down watching TV including handgrips, and leg extensions.  The key thing is to flex the muscles and hold.