The best exercise for managing blood pressure.

Plus: Recipes to fuel you and have you feeling your best.

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"Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence." 

Helen Keller

Thursday. Little did you know that Chuck E. Cheese is still around. Not only are they still around, but the chain is making moves to lure in parents, rolling out a “grown-up menu” across its ~600 U.S. locations. The menu includes four new pizza flavors, spicy meatballs, wings, and desserts. Just writing out that list makes my blood pressure spike. This brings us to today’s topic: What is something simple you can do to lower your blood pressure? Let’s dive in.

Together with Inside Hotels

Hotels We Love: Hotel Kabuki

Every kid from San Francisco post-1968 has grown up occasionally visiting Japantown, a selection of a few blocks surrounding the mall-style Japan Center.

While the stores and restaurants in the area offer a cultural immersion, the best way to fully appreciate the culture is a stay at Hotel Kabuki, a long-standing hotel bringing Japanese hospitality to the City by the Bay. Here, Eastern and Western cultures merge inside of a trendy, borderline-industrial building that characterizes the multinational spirit of the city. Plenty of amenities, like a newly Michelin-starred restaurant and an expansive fitness center, make any stay here feel at once comfortably old and brilliantly new.

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Nervous Blood Pressure GIF by Saturday Night Live

An Easy Blood Pressure Fix 

If you are someone you know has struggled with high blood pressure, you know that managing blood pressure can often feel like a complex balancing act. This biomarker is influenced by various factors, including diet, lifestyle, exercise habits, and even genetics. So where does one start? What changes should someone with high blood pressure prioritize? And how quickly can you expect to see results? 

These are all good questions. 

Luckily, a piece of recent research offers some clarity for those looking to support their heart health through exercise. A comprehensive analysis of 270 studies involving nearly 16,000 participants has revealed some insightful findings on the impact of different types of exercise on lowering blood pressure.

The study compared various exercise forms, including aerobic exercise, dynamic resistance exercise, a combination of aerobic and resistance training, high-intensity interval exercise, and isometric exercise. Interestingly, the standout performer was isometrics. 

This type of exercise involves contracting your muscles for an extended period without moving the joint. Think wall sits or plank holds. It turns out that the prolonged muscle contraction during isometric exercises leads to increased release of nitric oxide when the muscle relaxes. Nitric oxide is a potent vasodilator, which means it helps expand blood vessels, thereby reducing blood pressure.

In terms of effectiveness in reducing systolic and diastolic blood pressure, isometric exercise topped the list, followed by traditional resistance training (such as weight lifting), aerobic exercise, and high-intensity interval exercise. The research suggests that for individuals with hypertension, exercise could be as beneficial as medication in lowering blood pressure. (duh)

One specific exercise that stood out in the study for its blood pressure-lowering effects was the wall squat or wall sit. The researchers discovered four sets of two-minute-long isometric squats had the most significant impact. 

During an isometric squat, you maintain the “seated” position of a squat for two minutes. Between each set, you can take a rest period of one to four minutes. This simple yet effective exercise routine could be a game-changer in managing blood pressure. And the best part is you don’t need any fancy gym equipment or a bunch of time. 

It’s important to note that while these findings are promising, exercise should not be seen as a direct substitute for prescribed medication, especially for those with hypertension. At the end of the day, your doctor is your doctor. If you are prescribed blood pressure medication, you can't just ignore that and tell them a newsletter told you to do wall sits instead. That said, exercise and other lifestyle changes could help to eventually get you off those medications. 

The key takeaway? Incorporating specific exercises into your routine, like the isometric squat, could be a practical and time-efficient way to support cardiovascular health and manage blood pressure. There is already an existing body of evidence that supports how beneficial exercise can be in supporting heart health. This is just another piece to add to that pile. 

Long story short, make sure exercise is a part of your life, particularly isometric exercises and resistance training. Your heart, blood pressure, and overall health will all be thankful that you did. 

Tonic Shots

1. Have Some Nourishing Protein Before All The Christmas Cookies

This is one of our favorite salmon recipes. Enjoy!

2. Feel Good With Fiber Before You Hit Dessert

Antioxidants and fiber—this salad has it all. Pack your weekend with some feel-good food before all the Christmas desserts on Monday.

3. Hands Down One Of Our Favorite Soups

I mean—we couldn’t not include a soup. Enjoy this chicken enchilada soup, and make sure to make plenty for leftovers!

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