The wall sit, a simple bodyweight exercise that can be done virtually anywhere, isn’t just for building strength. It can help your cardiovascular health, too.

A recent study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine suggests that isometric exercises, like wall sits (also known as wall squats), can help reduce blood pressure even more effectively than other forms of exercise, including aerobic activity, weight training or high-intensity interval workouts.

The research is good news for people who struggle to meet physical activity guidelines that recommend at least 150 minutes of weekly moderate-intensity exercise, like brisk walking or bicycling. The new analysis found that about eight minutes of isometric exercise, three times a week, can lead to a meaningful reduction in blood pressure.

This means holding a wall sit for two minutes and resting for two minutes. Repeat for a total of four wall sits with breaks in between. A single session, including rest, will take only 14 minutes.

On average, a regular isometric routine of wall sits lowered systolic blood pressure (the top number) by 10 mmHg and diastolic pressure by 5 mmHg, according to the research.

The study’s authors say the findings support development of new exercise guidelines that go beyond recommending aerobic exercise for the prevention and treatment of hypertension.

“Our main message is that actually engaging in exercise is fantastic and any exercise might reduce your blood pressure,” said Jamie O’Driscoll, the senior author of the study. “But if you’re an individual who is currently exercising to the guidelines and you’re still having a bit of difficulty reducing that blood pressure and you want to avoid going on medication, perhaps isometrics is an additional mode to complement the exercise you’re already doing.”

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