McMaster University researchers find simple handgrip exercise lowers blood pressure

10/13/04

In two studies at McMaster University's Department of Kinesiology, researchers demonstrated that doing isometric handgrip (IHG) contractions three times a week for eight weeks led to lower blood pressure in people who were already taking medication for high blood pressure (hypertension).

The studies looked at whether the flexibility of arteries and the function of blood vessels--both of which improve after IGH--were factors in reducing blood pressure in people taking anti-hypertensive medication. Results indicated that following eight weeks of IHG training, blood pressure decreased significantly, suggesting that IHG exercises improve cardiovascular function.

In the first study, researchers examined whether the ability of arteries to stretch contributes to lower resting blood pressure. Following eight weeks of IHG training, the flexibility of the carotid artery improved substantially while blood pressure decreased significantly.

"Hypertension is associated with hardening of the arteries and development of cardiovascular disease," noted Maureen MacDonald, the supervising professor for both studies at McMaster. After the eight-week IHG exercise regimen, blood pressure decreased significantly, while the artery's capacity to dilate increased. Improved capacity to dilate in an artery in the heart results in improvements in blood flow to the heart muscle.

McMaster University, one of Canada's leading research-intensive universities, has world-renowned faculty and state-of-the-art research facilities. McMaster's culture of innovation fosters a commitment to discovery and learning in teaching, research and scholarship. Based in Hamilton, the University has a student population of more than 20,000 and more than 112,000 alumni in 128 countries around the world.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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