The surprising way to lower your blood pressure during menopause

Hypertension, high blood pressure and menopause

How to reduce blood pressure during menopause



Perimenopause and menopause bring about a whole host of changes and one common issue many face is increased blood pressure. This condition, known as hypertension can pose significant health risks if not managed effectively.
While medication and lifestyle adjustments are commonly recommended, an
often-overlooked but highly beneficial approach is incorporating isometric exercises into your daily routine. These exercises, which involve contracting muscles without movement, offer a simple yet powerful way to help manage blood pressure during and after menopause.

Understanding how menopause affects your blood pressure

Menopause, typically occurring between the ages of 45 and 55, marks the end of a woman’s menstrual cycles. During this transition, hormonal changes, particularly the decrease in oestrogen levels, can lead to various health issues, including high blood pressure. This is when the force of the blood against artery walls is consistently too high, typically defined as having a blood pressure reading of 140/90 mm Hg or higher, compared to the normal reading of around 120/80 mm Hg.

Oestrogen helps to keep blood vessels flexible and promotes the production of nitric oxide, a molecule that aids in vessel dilation. Reduced oestrogen levels can result in stiffer blood vessels and higher blood pressure.

The science behind isometric exercises

Isometric exercises involve contracting muscles without moving the joint. Common examples include wall sits, planks, and handgrip exercises. Unlike dynamic exercises, which involve movement, isometric exercises are low-impact and can be performed anywhere so you can fit this into your daily life at work or home.

Research has shown that isometric exercises can be particularly effective in reducing blood pressure. A study published in the Journal of Hypertension found that regular isometric handgrip training significantly lowered both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in participants. The mechanism behind this is believed to involve improved vascular function and reduced arterial stiffness, both of which are beneficial for blood pressure management.

Research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) highlights that static isometric exercises, like wall sits, are particularly effective in lowering blood pressure.


Benefits of isometric exercises for those experiencing menopause

1. Blood Pressure Reduction: The primary benefit of isometric exercises is their ability to lower blood pressure. This is crucial for menopausal women who are at an increased risk of hypertension due to hormonal changes. Regularly engaging in isometric exercises can help maintain blood pressure at healthier levels.

2. Improved Vascular Health: Isometric exercises enhance endothelial function, which is vital for maintaining flexible and healthy blood vessels. This can counteract the negative effects of reduced oestrogen on vascular health.

3. Strength and Stability: These exercises help in building muscle strength and improving joint stability without the risk of injury associated with high-impact workouts. This is particularly beneficial for menopausal women who might be experiencing joint pain or osteoporosis.

4. Convenience and Accessibility: Isometric exercises require no special equipment and can be done anywhere, making them an easy addition to any daily routine. Whether at home, in the office, or even while traveling, these exercises can be seamlessly integrated into one’s lifestyle.

5. Stress Reduction: Engaging in physical activity, including isometric exercises, can help reduce stress and anxiety levels, which are often heightened during menopause. Lower stress levels also contribute to lower blood pressure.


Incorporating isometric exercises into your routine

Starting with isometric exercises is straightforward and can be adapted to individual fitness levels. Here are some effective exercises to try:

Wall Sit: Stand about 2 feet away from the wall and press your back against it then lower yourself into a seated position as if there were a chair under you (thighs are parallel to the ground, and your knees are directly above your ankles). Hold this position for 20-30 seconds and gradually increase the duration as you build strength up to a max of 2 minutes.

Plank: Lie face down and lift your body onto your forearms and toes, keeping your body in a straight line. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, working up to a minute as your core strength improves.

Handgrip Exercise: Squeeze a handgrip device or a stress ball as hard as you can for 5-10 seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times with each hand.

Leg Extension: Sit in a chair and extend one leg out straight, contracting the thigh muscle. Hold for 5-10 seconds, then switch to the other leg. Repeat 10 times on each leg.

It’s important to start slowly and listen to your body. Consulting with a healthcare professional before beginning any new exercise regimen is always a good idea, especially if you have preexisting health conditions.

For more personalised support, consider joining MenoHealth‘s programmes, where we offer expert guidance and community support tailored to the unique needs of menopausal women. Together, we can navigate this transition with empowerment and well-being.


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