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J Hum Hypertens. 2010 Mar;24(3):175-82. doi: 10.1038/jhh.2009.51. Epub 2009 Jun 25.

Effects of aerobic training intensity on resting, exercise and post-exercise blood pressure, heart rate and heart-rate variability.

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Division of Hypertension and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation, Department of Cardiovascular Diseases, University of Leuven, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.


We aimed to investigate the effects of endurance training intensity (1) on systolic blood pressure (SBP) and heart rate (HR) at rest before exercise, and during and after a maximal exercise test; and (2) on measures of HR variability at rest before exercise and during recovery from the exercise test, in at least 55-year-old healthy sedentary men and women. A randomized crossover study comprising three 10-week periods was performed. In the first and third period, participants exercised at lower or higher intensity (33% or 66% of HR reserve) in random order, with a sedentary period in between. Training programmes were identical except for intensity, and were performed under supervision thrice for 1 h per week. The results show that in the three conditions, that is, at rest before exercise, during exercise and during recovery, we found endurance training at lower and higher intensity to reduce SBP significantly (P<0.05) and to a similar extent. Further, SBP during recovery was, on average, not lower than at rest before exercise, and chronic endurance training did not affect the response of SBP after an acute bout of exercise. The effect of training on HR at rest, during exercise and recovery was more pronounced (P<0.05) with higher intensity. Finally, endurance training had no significant effect on sympathovagal balance. In conclusion, in participants at higher age, both training programmes exert similar effects on SBP at rest, during exercise and during post-exercise recovery, whereas the effects on HR are more pronounced after higher intensity training.

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