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Physical activity and exercise lower blood pressure in individuals with hypertension: narrative review of 27 RCTs


Regular physical activity (PA) reduces the blood pressure (BP) of individuals with hypertension. The present review analysed the scientific evidence for the BP lowering effect of aerobic PA in 27 randomised controlled studies on individuals with hypertension, and shows that regular medium-to-high-intensity aerobic activity reduces the BP by a mean of 11/5 mm Hg (level of evidence, 3+). In addition, three randomised controlled trials (RCTs) on isometric (static) activity showed a BP reduction of similar magnitude in hypertensives; dynamic resistance training may show less effect, as shown in five available RCTs (level of evidence 2+). As both the prevalence of hypertension and physical inactivity are high and increasing in today's society, PA has a great role to play as a single (when indicated) or additive treatment for hypertension. Furthermore, as competitive athletes are getting older, it can be expected that more athletes at different competitive levels will have hypertension. Certain considerations must be applied regarding evaluation and treatment of hypertension in athletes. Eligibility for competitive sports may be affected if target organ damage (TOD) is present; however, an athlete with well-controlled BP, having no additional risk factors or TOD, is eligible for all sports.

  • Physical activity
  • Exercise
  • Intervention
  • Review

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