High blood pressure is often branded the “silent killer” because the damage it inflicts on the body is not immediately perceptible to the eye. The condition means the force of blood pushing against your artery walls is consistently too high. Over time, this pressure narrows the arteries that supply blood and oxygen to vital organs, such as the heart.
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Starving the heart of oxygen and blood is called heart disease, which is the leading cause of heart attacks.
It is therefore imperative to keep high blood pressure under control.
One of the most effective ways to reduce your blood pressure is by exercising regularly.
As the NHS explains, being active and taking regular exercise lowers blood pressure by keeping your heart and blood vessels in good condition.
Keeping active also helps you to maintain a healthy weight, which will also help lower your blood pressure.
Considering the role exercise plays in reducing your blood pressure, many people in the UK are at increased risk of developing high blood pressure in light of the current coronavirus pandemic.
The government has enforced everyone to stay indoors to stem the spread of the virus, permitting one form of exercise a day.
While some people will make the most of the opportunity to exercise when they can, other people may feel disincentivised to get out, thereby hiking their risk of high blood pressure.
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Fortunately, there is a simple exercise you can do at home which has proven shown to lower blood pressure.
According to a research review published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings, adults who practice yoga with breathing and relaxation exercises at least three times a week may have lower blood pressure than people who don’t.
How did the researchers come to this conclusion?
Researchers analysed data from 49 trials with a total of 3,517 participants who were typically middle-aged, overweight women and men who already had high blood pressure or were close to developing the condition.
These smaller trials assessed blood pressure before and after participants were randomly assigned either to do yoga or to a control group without exercise programs.
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Overall, the people in the yoga groups experienced average reductions in systolic blood pressure of five mmHG (millimeters of mercury) more than those in the control groups, and diastolic blood pressure was reduced by 3.9 mmHG more with yoga.
What is systolic blood pressure?
Systolic blood pressure is top number or highest blood pressure when the heart is squeezing and pushing the blood round the body.
Diastolic blood pressure is the bottom number or lowest blood pressure between heart beats.
According to Blood Pressure UK it gives the best idea of your risk of having a stroke or heart attack so keeping it in check is vital.
According to the study, when people with high blood pressure did yoga three times a week in sessions that also included breathing and relaxation exercises, they experienced average decreases of 11 mmHG more than control groups in systolic blood pressure and six mmHG more in diastolic blood pressure.
Commenting on the findings, lead study author Yin Wu, a researcher in kinesiology at the University of Connecticut in Storrs, said: “Our results not only showed that yoga can be just as, or even more effective than aerobic exercise to reduce blood pressure; but also quantitatively showed the importance of emphasising yoga breathing techniques and mental relaxation/meditation along with physical forms during practice.”
Yu added: “So, yoga, among other lifestyle interventions (such as diet and smoking cessation) should be adopted early on even when the blood pressure is still relatively low, and should be continued along with medication when blood pressure is relatively high.”
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