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Angiology. 2009 Apr-May;60(2):207-16. doi: 10.1177/0003319708316012. Epub 2008 Sep 15.

Sport therapy for hypertension: why, how, and how much?

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Vascular Diseases Center, University of Ferrara, S. Anna Hospital, Ferrara, Italy.


Exercise may prevent or reduce the effects of metabolic and cardiovascular diseases, including arterial hypertension. Both acute and chronic exercise, alone or combined with lifestyle modifications, decrease blood pressure and avoid or reduce the need for pharmacologic therapy in patients with hypertension. The hypotensive effect of exercise is observed in a large percentage of subjects, with differences due to age, sex, race, health conditions, parental history, and genetic factors. Exercise regulates autonomic nervous system activity, increases shear stress, improves nitric oxide production in endothelial cells and its bioavailability for vascular smooth muscle, up-regulates antioxidant enzymes. Endurance training is primarily effective, and resistance training can be combined with it. Low-to-moderate intensity training in sedentary patients with hypertension is necessary, and tailored programs make exercise safe and effective also in special populations. Supervised or home-based exercise programs allow a nonpharmacological reduction of hypertension and reduce risk factors, with possible beneficial effects on cardiovascular morbidity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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