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Sports Med. 2006;36(2):109-16.

The anti-hypertensive effects of exercise: integrating acute and chronic mechanisms.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University College London, London, England.


It is anticipated that hypertension will afflict up to a third of the worldwide population by the year 2025. Therefore, cost-effective treatment strategies are essential to control this disease. Exercise has been associated with anti-hypertensive benefits, but despite extensive research the optimal exercise dose (training frequency, intensity and time) required to lower blood pressure and maintain normotensive status remains unclear. This article explores the interrelationships between acute and chronic mechanisms that have been linked to the anti-hypertensive benefits of exercise and proposes that the optimal exercise dosage may depend on the interplay between these mechanisms and the effects of exercise on independent risk markers of hypertension. Therefore, the correct exercise dose for the treatment of hypertension should be prescribed on an individual basis. Future work should examine post-exercise hypotension effects in relation to exercise training in hypertensive populations and both acute and longitudinal training studies should be conducted that incorporate independent risk factors of hypertension as co-variables into their analysis on blood pressure effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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