Lower Your Blood Pressure With Isometric Exercises



By Joy Stephenson-Laws, JD, Founder

When I workout with my trainer, the hardest exercises actually involve slowing down and being still. When I am instructed to do a plank or wall sit, I know I’m really going to feel the burn! This type of exercise is called isometric.

Unless you are a personal trainer or work in the sports or fitness industry, you most likely separate your workouts into two categories: cardio (aerobic) and resistance training. There is, however, more to it than that. 

"The 3 Big I's:" Isometric, Isotonic, Isokinetic.


So, let’s do a brief lesson in what I like to call the 3 Big I’s:

  • Isometric - Activating and strengthening muscles with no movement. Think about how many muscles,  abs, glutes and back muscles, tighten and contract when you hold a plank. During isometric exercises, the muscles do not change in length and the joints also do not move. 
  • Isotonic - This is essentially the opposite of isometric. It involves strengthening muscles with movement and full range of motion. Anything where you push (such as a push-up), pull (a pull-up) or lift (bicep curl). Other examples of isotonic exercises include squats, bench presses and crunches.
  • Isokinetic - This is a more specialized type of strength training often used for athletes to measure strength and as a rehabilitation tool. “Isokinetic training is a type of exercise training that uses a special machine. The exercise machine creates different levels of resistance. That way, your movements are at a constant speed, no matter how much force you apply. Whatever your strength level is, the machine can always match the amount of force you apply,” according to Mercy Health

I think it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of these, because we are all at different places in our health and fitness journeys and may be somewhat confused about which exercise is best for us. I believe most of us do isotonic exercises if we strength train, but I do think isometric exercise falls to the wayside for many.

If you have high blood pressure or are at risk for developing high blood pressure, isometric exercise may be best for you.

Turns out, isometric exercises may be highly effective in managing high blood pressure. A recent study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine that analyzed different types of exercise, such as cardio and interval training, and the effect on blood pressure found that isometric exercise was most effective in lowering blood pressure.

Their findings were that isometric exercise led to the most significant reductions in systolic and diastolic blood pressure,” according to this Medical Xpress report discussing the study. Isometric exercises are also low impact, which can be great for people with injuries or those who need to work on stability.

Isometric exercise is not as easy as it may sound. Holding a plank for one minute or even 30 seconds can be really challenging. You can always work your way up to a minute or longer. In this older pH blog, I wrote about a man in his sixties who held a plank for eight hours! I don’t recommend this, but I want people to take their blood pressure seriously.

High blood pressure (hypertension) significantly increases the risk of cardiovascular issues such as heart attack and stroke. Also keep in mind that heart disease is the leading cause of death in both American men and women. Exercise in general is great, but if it is safe for you to do so and high blood pressure is a concern you may want to consider doing more isometric exercise. Pilates is a great way to incorporate more isometric exercise.

Be proactive about high blood pressure in every way possible.

There is so much you can do in addition to exercising regularly to maintain a healthy blood pressure  such as maintaining a healthy weight, managing stress and following a balanced, nutrient-dense diet, but I think this pH Labs blog in particular really gets into the details of how you can truly be proactive and some key differences between men and women. I highly recommend giving this blog a really good read and taking the time to consider lifestyle changes you may need to make. 

Also test your body for minerals, vitamins, and other deficiencies since zinc, potassium, calcium, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin C, folate, and magnesium, for example, support healthy blood pressure. 


Enjoy your healthy life!


Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice. Please consult with your doctor or another competent healthcare practitioner to get specific medical advice for your situation.                                       


The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, attorneys, nutritionists, nurses, and certified fitness instructors. This team also includes the members of the pH Medical Advisory Board, which constantly monitors all pH programs, products, and services. To learn more about the pH Medical Advisory Board, click here.


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