- Reviewed by Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
Aerobic exercise involves moving the largest muscles of your body in a rhythmic, repetitive pattern — think brisk walking, running, cycling, and swimming. It's long been considered the best type of activity to lower blood pressure. But growing evidence shows that strength training can also reduce blood pressure. According to a new study, the most effective type involves contracting your muscles without any movement, which is known as isometric or static exercise (see "Muscle-strengthening activity: Types, terms, and examples").
Published October 2023 in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, the study pooled findings from 270 clinical trials involving a total of more than 15,000 people. All the trials lasted at least two weeks and reported the effects of exercise on blood pressure. As expected, most types of exercise helped lower blood pressure. But the most effective workout, especially in people who had high blood pressure, was isometric exercise training.
To continue reading this article, you must log in.
Subscribe to Harvard Health Online for immediate access to health news and information from Harvard Medical School.
- Research health conditions
- Check your symptoms
- Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
- Find the best treatments and procedures for you
- Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
I'd like to receive access to Harvard Health Online for only $4.99 a month.Sign Me Up
Already a member? Login ».
About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
About the Reviewer
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
As a service to our readers, Harvard Health Publishing provides access to our library of archived content. Please note the date of last review or update on all articles.
No content on this site, regardless of date, should ever be used as a substitute for direct medical advice from your doctor or other qualified clinician.