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Health Matters: New research shows stretching may be best exercise to lower blood pressure

High blood pressure is when the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels is consistently too high, also known as hypertension.

HOUSTON — According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly half of adults in the U.S. have high blood pressure.

Research shows that walking helps to lower it, but new research shows stretching may be a better remedy.

“With high blood pressure, you don’t have signs of high blood pressure until it gets to a point where it’s actually very high,” said Dr. Naveen Mahmood, UT Physician Family Practice M.D.

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High blood pressure is when the force of blood flowing through the blood vessels is consistently too high, also known as hypertension. Often, high blood pressure can go undetected. Family medicine expert Dr. Naveen Mahmood with UT Physicians does routine screening for high blood pressure. 

“Big things to lower it, lifestyle modifications. Everyone’s heard of lifestyle modifications. Changing your diet, low sodium diet, start to exercise,” she said. 

But new research from the University of Saskatchewan shows stretching may be better at lowering blood pressure than walking. When stretching, you not only stretch your muscles but also all the blood vessels that feed into your muscles, including the arteries. 

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“It showed that, about 20 people that they looked at. Half of them did their brisk walk 30 minutes a day for five days. The other half did 30 minutes of total body stretching for five days, and they noticed that group of patients actually had decreased blood pressure compared to the walk,” said Mahmood.

Mahmood believes a combination of walking and stretching is best for lowering blood pressure. Getting routine yearly exams and blood pressure screenings can also help prevent the need for medication, or other risks of high blood pressure. 

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