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  #1   ^
Old Sat, Jul-29-23, 04:21
Demi's Avatar
Demi Demi is offline
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Default Isometric exercises are better at preventing high blood pressure than going for a run

The 8-minute workout all over-40s should know about

Heart experts have discovered that simple isometric exercises are best for lowering blood pressure.

Go for a cardio-boosting run, add a bit of yoga for flexibility and throw in some weight training to keep your muscles strong if you’re really good: we all know what we ought to be doing every week to stay healthy in midlife. But now research suggests that static isometric exercises, which involve using your muscles to hold your body still in certain positions, are even more effective at reducing your blood pressure and therefore your risk of heart attacks, strokes and vascular dementia.

In a review of 270 clinical trials involving 15,827 participants that was published in the British Medical Journal last week Dr Jamie O’Driscoll, a researcher in cardiovascular physiology at Canterbury Christ Church University, describes how isometric moves, such as a plank or a wall sit, could be helpful not only for the 14 million people in the UK who already have hypertension but everyone of middle-age and older.

“When people think about resistance exercise they assume it involves a lot of dynamic movement such as repetitive weightlifting or lunges and squats,” O’Driscoll says. “Isometric exercise is overlooked but is something we should all be adding to the mix.”

Rather than performing endless repetitions with increasingly heavy weights, eight minutes of isometric exercises — such as planks, wall sits and squat holds — three times a week could bring benefits for heart health while boosting balance, posture and muscular endurance.

O’Driscoll’s research compared the effects of aerobic cardio exercise, such as running and cycling; repetitions of dynamic movements, such as press-ups and squats; HIIT training, which involves intense effort followed by periods of recovery, and isometric workouts on blood pressure.

Results showed that all exercise was helpful in reducing hypertension, but that static exercise was the most effective. “When you work a muscle isometrically by holding it under tension with no movement, blood vessels compress,” O’Driscoll says. “When you release the hold there is a sudden increase in blood flow as the blood vessels dilate again, which is an effect you don’t get in the same way with other forms of exercise.”

His paper is the latest to outline the importance of isometric training for heart health. Three years ago isometric exercise was added to the European Society of Cardiology guidelines on sports cardiology and exercise in patients with cardiovascular disease for the first time, and in other published studies O’Driscoll and his colleagues have shown that static exercise reduces inflammation, improves performance of the heart and reduces the acceleration of cardiovascular disease.

But benefits extend beyond the cardiovascular. “What these exercises do very well is improve muscle endurance, or the capacity of muscles to sustain effort,” Dalton Wong, the founder of TwentyTwo Training, says. “This is very important when it comes to maintaining good posture and stability.”

Adding isometric exercises to your routine will also make your muscles stronger. “The real beauty of static training is that it requires little or no equipment — you can do it using your own body weight — and it is supremely time efficient,” Wong says. “I like to do my isometric moves at the end of a workout to maximise the gains in muscle endurance. But you can get great health gains from doing just a few minutes on a regular basis.” He suggests choosing any four of the isometric exercises below to hold for two minutes each — a total of eight minutes a workout — with two minutes’ rest in between.

“We have just completed a study on people in their eighties, who were able to do an isometric routine quite easily,” O’Driscoll adds. “If you need to stop, stand up, or kneel, momentarily to ease the load, then return to the position to finish the two-minute bout. The crucial thing is to do it a few times a week.”

Dalton Wong’s isometric routine

Choose four exercises to hold for two minutes each

Lie face down with your elbows on the ground. Raise your body so your elbows are at 90 degrees and your weight is distributed over your forearms and feet. Keep your back in line with your head and feet, looking down towards your hands and engage your core muscles to hold for two minutes. You can also try what is called a high plank — with straight arms supported by your hands, as if doing press-ups — but this can be challenging if you have weak wrists.

Bear plank
Start on your hands and knees with your weight evenly distributed. Engage your glutes (bottom) and core to lift your knees slightly off the ground. Keep your eyes on the floor and lower your back so it’s slightly rounded but not arched. Hold this position for two minutes, lowering your knees momentarily if it is too tough.

Start by lying on the floor. Simultaneously raise your upper and lower body to form a V position, with your core engaged, knees slightly bent, feet just off the ground and arms straight out in front of you. Hold for two minutes. If you need to, place your hands on the floor for support.

Squat hold
Stand upright, with your back straight and feet wider than hip width apart (an even wider squat will place less stress on your knees). Bend from the hips, keeping your weight over your heels and lowering your bottom until your thighs are parallel to the ground, or as low as is manageable. Hold for two minutes.

Standing scaption raises
Stand with your knees slightly bent, holding a dumbbell in each hand at your sides, with your thumbs at the highest point. Keeping your arms straight, raise the weights to shoulder height in front of you in a wide V, so that you feel a stretch across the shoulders. Squeeze your shoulder blades together and engage the core muscles to hold for two minutes.

Wall sit
Stand with your back against a wall and feet shoulder width apart. Slowly slide your back down the wall, inching your feet forwards, until your thighs are parallel to the ground or at an angle that feels comfortable to hold (it’s better to start in a moderate position). Make sure your knees are above your ankles and keep your back flat on the wall. Hold this position for two minutes.

Lie on your back with your hands by your sides, knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Tighten your glutes, engage your core and lift your hips towards the ceiling until you have a straight line from your shoulders to your knees. Hold this position for two minutes.
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  #2   ^
Old Sat, Jul-29-23, 18:02
CarlieW CarlieW is offline
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Interesting! I have recently started doing three of these in the morning every day. I am trying to manage my blood pressure so perhaps these might help me a little.
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