When we hear the word exercise, we usually think of activities that involve a lot of movement, like cycling, walking, or weightlifting. However, there is a form of exercise that can help you work out without actually moving your body. This is called isometric exercise, and it is becoming popular due to its ability to lower and regulate blood pressure levels.

What is isometric exercise?

Isometric exercise is a form of exercise that involves tightening or contracting a particular muscle or group of muscles without changing their length. During this exercise, the joints involved remain still.

When it comes to exercise, there are two main types: dynamic and isometric. Dynamic exercises involve movement, while isometric exercises are done in a static position. Isometric exercise is a form of exercise that involves tightening or contracting a particular muscle or group of muscles without changing their length. During this exercise, the joints involved remain still.

Instead of relying on motion, isometric exercises rely on your body weight to help maintain strength and stabilize your joints and core. You can increase muscle endurance and strength by holding a static position without putting undue stress on your joints.

Since isometric exercise doesn’t involve movement or full range of motion and targets specific muscles, it can help people recovering from an injury or those with arthritis to improve strength and stability.

There is a common misconception that isometric exercise involves holding your breath and straining your muscles and can cause an increase in your blood pressure. The truth is that you need to focus on breathing in and out slowly while performing isometric exercises. By slowly inhaling and exhaling, you can avoid any negative effects on your blood pressure and keep your muscles engaged throughout the exercise.

Recent studies show including isometric exercise in your workout routine is an effective strategy to reduce or prevent high blood pressure.

Why is blood pressure important?

It’s essential to keep an eye on your blood pressure levels, as high blood pressure can be harmful to your health. It can lead to the heart working harder and less efficiently, which can cause problems in the long term. Two key numbers are considered when measuring blood pressure: systolic and diastolic. These numbers indicate the pressure in your arteries during the contraction and relaxation of your heart.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention defines:

  • Systolic blood pressure is the maximum pressure in the arteries as the heart contracts and relaxes, and
  • Diastolic blood pressure is the arterial pressure when the heart rests between beats.

The blood pressure that indicates good health is below 120/80 mm Hg.

Check here why exercise lowers blood pressure.

Is Isometric Exercise More Effective To Control Blood Pressure?

What are the new research findings about exercise and blood pressure?

In a recent large study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the traditional recommendations for exercise to reduce blood pressure, which emphasized aerobic or cardio exercises such as cycling or running, have been revisited. The study also analyzed the impact of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and isometric exercise on blood pressure levels, in addition to the previously recommended aerobic exercises.

The authors defined healthy resting blood pressure as below 130/85 mmHg and high blood pressure as 140/90 mmHg.

The researchers analyzed 270 trials with a total of 15,827 participants between the years 1990 to 2023. The study compared the effectiveness of isometric exercises, HIIT, aerobic exercises, dynamic resistance training, and a combination of the last two forms of exercise in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure. The study found that isometric exercises were the most effective in reducing both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.

Check here about the preventive heart tests

How can you incorporate isometric exercise into your workout?

Incorporating isometric exercise into your fitness regimen can enhance your cardiovascular and strength training efforts. Two of the most effective isometric exercises for reducing blood pressure are wall sits and planks. Here are some instructions on how to perform them:

Wall Sit

wall sit exercise

To perform a wall sit exercise, stand with your back against a wall and step about 2 feet away from the wall. Place your feet shoulder-width apart on the ground, and then start sliding down the wall, keeping your abs tight and bending your legs until they form a 90-degree angle. Essentially, it is like sitting in a chair without a chair. Ensure that your knees remain directly above your ankles.

This particular exercise routine targets your glute or buttock muscles, quadriceps or thigh muscles, and abdominal or core muscles. It can be an effective way to tone and strengthen these specific muscle groups and improve overall cardiovascular physical fitness.


Wall Plank

To perform the wall plank exercise, start by standing facing a wall. Place your elbows and forearms firmly on the wall, shoulder-width apart. Take a step back and ensure that your body is in a straight line, from your head to your heels. Tuck in your bottom and engage your core muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine. Hold this position for 20 seconds, focusing on breathing and maintaining good form throughout the exercise.

Floor Plank on Kneesfloor plank on kneesTo perform the plank exercise, start by lying on your stomach and raising your upper body slightly using your forearms. Then, lift your hips off the floor using your knees and forearms until they are the same height as your shoulders. Hold this position for 20 seconds while focusing on keeping your core muscles engaged.

For a more challenging variation, press your toes into the floor and lift your knees off the floor. Squeeze your glutes and core to create a plank that involves full-body tension. As you hold this position, remember to pull your belly button in towards your spine for added stability and to keep your form correct. Planks target your back, shoulders, and abdominal muscles.

Forearm Planks

Old man doing forearm plank

To make the plank exercise harder. Perform this:

Assuming the plank position involves lying face down on the floor with your forearms and toes in contact with the ground. Ensure your elbows are directly under your shoulders and your forearms point forward. Keep your head relaxed and your gaze fixed on the ground.

To maintain a neutral spine position, engage your abdominal muscles by drawing your navel towards your spine. Ensure your torso remains straight and rigid, creating a straight line from your ears to your toes. Avoid any sagging or bending. Keep your shoulders down and avoid any creeping up towards your ears. Also, make sure that your heels are over the balls of your feet.

Maintain this position for 10 seconds, then release and return to the floor.”

Over time, increase the duration to 30, 45, or 60 seconds.

With both exercises:
  • Maintaining a steady and slow breathing pattern is important to ensure that your muscles receive the necessary amount of oxygen during exercise.
  • When performing a certain position or exercise, it is recommended to start by holding the posture for 20 seconds and gradually increase the holding time to two minutes.
  • Aiming for four sets of exercises with a few minutes of rest in between each set three times a week is also suggested. This approach can help you build your strength and endurance over time.

Check this Best Resource on Old Age Fitness

About Author: Renu Bakshi, AKA Fitness Buffhq, is an ISSA Certified Elite Trainer. HeJust Fitness Hub passed the Personal Fitness Trainer Course, Nutrition Health Coach course & Specialist Exercise Therapy course from ISSA, USA, obtaining + 97% marks. He shares his experience and knowledge about nutrition and effective workouts to get you in the best shape of your life, no matter how old you may be. The author says, “Age is just a number!”

IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is general and for information only because it doesn’t consider your health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalized health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should determine if the information is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.


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