Background Risk factors of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) tend to aggregate with aging. Several studies showed the effectiveness of exercise on physical fitness and cardiovascular health; however, research on the long-term effects of different modes of exercise in subjects at risk is still lacking. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to compare different modes of exercise on physical fitness and CVD risk factors in overweigh elderly men with high blood pressure.
Methods Forty-eight overweigh elderly men (BMI≥25 kg/m2) with high blood pressure (SBP≥130 and/or DBP≥85 mmHg) were randomly assigned to an aerobic training group (ATG, n=15, 71.7±4.7 years), a combined aerobic and resistance training group (CTG, n=16, 68.5±3.5 years), and a control group (n=17, 67.0±5.8 years). Both training programs were of moderate-to-vigorous intensity, three days per week for nine months. Six independent physical fitness tests (back scratch, chair sit-and-reach, 30-s chair stand, arm curl, 8-foot up-and-go, 6-min walk), body fat mass, fat-free mass, systolic and diastolic blood pressure were measured on five different occasions. The data were analyzed using a mixed-model analysis of variance.
Results ANOVA indicated a significant main effect of group (p≤0.001) for all physical fitness tests, with significant differences between both training groups and control. However the ATG only improved flexibility (back scratch and chair sit-and-reach), whereas CTG improved all physical fitness components. ANOVA also identified a significant main effect of time for 8-foot up-and-go (p=0.031) in the CTG. A significant main effect of group (p=0.000) and time (p=0.029) was observed in body fat mass percentage, with a 2.3% decrease in CTG. A significant main effect of time was observed in SBP (p=0.005) with reductions of 15 mmHg and 24 mmHg (in ATG and CTG, respectively) and in DBP (p=0.011) with reductions of 6 mmHg and 12 mm Hg (in ATG and CTG, respectively).
Conclusions Both training programs increased physical fitness, however the effects are more extensive with the combination of aerobic and resistance training. exercise training is a non-pharmacological safe and effective tool in reducing blood pressure, but larger changes are observed in the presence of body fat loss. Therefore, the combination of aerobic training with resistance training in the same program is more effective in the promotion of physical fitness and in the prevention of CVD risk factors than aerobic training alone.