Aerobic exercise. Strength training. Isomeric hand-grip exercise. These are the alternative therapies that may help lower high blood pressure, according to a new scientific statement published by the American Heart Association.

Indeed such fitness-related activities may assist those with blood pressure higher than 120/80 mm Hg who have not had success with standard prescription medications, or who have discovered they cannot tolerate such meds for some reason.

While such exercise-focused treatments can help, AHA is quick to point out that as so-called alternatives, these should supplement rather than replace other research-backed strategies that reduce high blood pressure including adhering to a balanced low-sodium diet, taking medications as indicated, maintaining a health body weight, increasing physical exercise, refraining from smoking, and avoiding heavy drinking.

Researchers reviewed 1,000 studies on behavioral therapies, non-invasive procedures and devices, as well as aerobic exercise, resistance or weight training, and isometric exercises, especially hand-grip devices.

All three types of exercise were found to lower blood pressure and side effects were rare. Aerobic exercise is the type that makes you breathe heavier and faster, challenging your heart and lungs. Dancing, grocery shopping and pushing the lawn mower as well as basketball, tennis, walking, jogging or running can all count as aerobic exercise, which is any such physical activity done at a moderate or vigorous intensity for at least 10 minutes at a time. What’s’ key is that your body works hard enough to elevate heart rate.

Strength-training makes muscles larger and stronger. Be sure to work all the major muscle groups, including the abs, arms, back, chest, hips, legs, and shoulders. Training tools used to strength-train include free weights, resistance bands, your own body weight (such as with yoga, push-ups, and sit-ups) and weight machines.

Surprisingly, four weeks of isometric hand-grip exercises led to the most powerful improvement, which was a 10 percent dip inarthritis and heart disease ad systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. The researchers warn, though, that this type of exercise should not be performed by those who have majorly high blood pressure, in other words, upwards of 180/110 mm Hg.

If you suffer from high blood pressure and are looking for treatment options other than medications, which have side effects and can be expensive, ask your doctor if these exercises may be appropriate for you and how to incorporate them into a treatment plan. You can easily locate hand-grippers online (Captains of Crush Hand-Grippers start at about $20). Always consult your doctor before starting any new fitness regimen.

Would You consider treatment plans that lower high blood pressure without involving medication?

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