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Perform the Plank To Reduce Blood Pressure!

Everyone who’s walked through the doors of Here We Go Fitness has done some form of a plank.  It’s a staple in everyone’s core exercise programming, including my own.  Well now there’s a new reason to love planks!

A new systematic review of exercise and its effects on hypertension (high blood pressure) has revealed that isometric exercises were most effective at preventing and reducing high blood pressure!  Isometric exercise is a form of exercise that requires a static and constant contraction of a muscle across one or more joints over a period of time.  Think a plank or a wall sit.

According to Dr. Jamie O’Driscoll, one of the coauthors of the study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, states that isometric exercise is the most effective method in reducing both systolic (top number) and diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure. 

Healthy resting BP is defined as having a reading under 130/85 mmHg.  Pre-high blood pressure is defined as 130-139/85-89 mmHg and high blood pressure is defined as above 140/90 mmHg.

To be clear, the conclusion of the study doesn’t mean that if you perform a plank all day you’ll have excellent blood pressure.  It also doesn’t mean aerobic exercise is useless.  All methods of exercise, whether aerobic or resistance training, help with reducing blood pressure.  (As a member of the ACSM and NASM, I personally recommend a combination of both forms of exercise in a progressive systematic program).  It just means that isometric exercise has been shown to have the most effect at hypertension prevention and treatment.  So if you have high BP, I want to see that smile every time we “get down to the ground” for the plank!  We’re not just working on your core, we’re helping your heart!

How to Utilize Isometric Exercises

Isometric exercises are best utilized with your core training and for improving joint stability.  One of the main goals of core training is not about creating a six-pack (although that’s still quite a desirable goal), but rather to develop optimal strength and stability around your spine and within your spine, including the lumbopelvic region (lower back and pelvis).  It’s what we in the biz call “neuromuscular efficiency, movement efficiency, and intervertebral stability.”

Every workout you have should include some form of core training.  If all you have at your disposal is bodyweight, choose planks, wall sits, or squat holds.  For those with access to gym equipment, once you have the ability to master the control of your own weight, add in cable or free weights to increase the level of difficulty in maintaining a static posture under rotation or extension.  Exercises like the Pallof press, loaded dead bugs and sandbag drags will create significant tension for your core musculature.

Need an effective program to bulletproof your core and reduce your blood pressure?  Contact me now and we’ll get started on achieving your goals!

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