people stretching their legs

Research Reveals Stretching May Help Lower High Blood Pressure

By Christine Macahilig
May 04, 2021

Stretching can do more than improve flexibility and warm up muscles before workouts. A study from the University of Saskatchewan suggests that it may also help lower high blood pressure.

In the study, researchers randomly assigned 40 men and women ages 61-plus with stage-1 hypertension into two groups. One engaged in a whole-body stretching routine for 30 minutes a day, five days a week; the other did a brisk walk for the same amount of time and frequency. Before and after the study, researchers measured the participants’ blood pressure.

After eight weeks, the stretching group had a greater reduction in blood pressure than the walking group. The researchers concluded that stretching your muscles can also make the blood vessels—including arteries—that feed them less stiff. Arterial stiffness can cause resistance to blood flow, which in turn can lead to high blood pressure. By reducing the stiffness, you reduce the resistance, which results in lowered blood pressure.

This doesn't mean you should hang up your walking shoes. While those in the walking group didn’t see significant reductions in blood pressure, they did lose more body fat, which also may improve health outcomes.

To get the benefits of both, the researchers recommend that walkers incorporate stretching into their routine, and vice versa. And although the study had participants doing stretches over a 30-minute period, they say a shorter stretching session that emphasizes the larger muscle groups in the legs can be just as effective.

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