If you’ve got high blood pressure, or your numbers are creeping up, doctors universally suggest exercise. Because numerous studies show that taking regular walks, for example, can make blood vessels and arteries more flexible, so blood flows more easily, reducing the risk for heart disease.
But new research from the University of Saskatchewan shows you’ll get even better results by stretching! Everything from simple leg, arm and back stretches, to yoga and pilates. Kinesiology professor and lead researcher Dr. Phil Chilibeck says stretching your muscles ALSO stretches your blood vessels, which reduces arterial stiffness. And more-flexible arteries means better blood flow, and improved blood pressure.
This particular study found that those who stretched had better blood pressure than those who walked. BUT the walkers lost more body fat around the waist.
That’s why Dr. Chilibeck says the best way to lower blood pressure is to stretch AND do aerobic exercise most days of the week. He recommends spending a full 30 minutes walking, running, swimming, hiking, or biking. Then, adding at least 10 minutes of stretching, concentrating on the muscles in your legs. That’s because our legs have the largest muscle groups in the body. So flexible leg arteries trigger the biggest reduction in blood pressure.