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Am J Cardiol. 1997 Jul 1;80(1):49-55.

Effect of regular aerobic exercise on elevated blood pressure in postmenopausal women.

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Center for Physical Activity, Disease Prevention, and Aging, Department of Kinesiology, University of Colorado at Boulder, 80309, USA.


The efficacy of aerobic exercise for lowering arterial blood pressure (BP) in postmenopausal women with elevations of 130 to 159/85 to 99 mm Hg has not been established. To determine this, 10 postmenopausal women with high normal resting BP or stage I essential hypertension were studied throughout a 12-week lead-in period (no exercise, n = 5) and/or 12 weeks of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise (walking, n = 9). There were no significant time effects during the lead-in period (all p >0.4). Maximal aerobic capacity (as assessed by maximal oxygen consumption) was unchanged after 12 weeks of exercise, but exercise tolerance (treadmill walking time) increased by approximately 10% (p <0.05). Body weight, dietary intake and composition, and urinary sodium excretion were unchanged before versus after exercise training. After 12 weeks of exercise, systolic and diastolic BP at rest were significantly lowered by 10/7 and 12/5 mm Hg, respectively, in the sitting and standing positions (p <0.001); some (> or = 3 to 5 mm Hg) decrease in BP was observed in every subject. On average, subjects with stage I hypertension had a reduction in BP into the high normal range, whereas subjects with high-normal initial levels had a reduction in BP into the normal range. Borderline significant (p = 0.06 to 0.07) reductions in systolic and diastolic BP were observed by the end of the second and tenth weeks of training, respectively. Ambulatory determined 24-hour levels of BP were unchanged with training, but significant reductions in BP during submaximal exercise occurred. Our results demonstrate that regular aerobic exercise can produce clinically important reductions in resting BP in Caucasian postmenopausal women with mild to moderately elevated initial levels. This effect of exercise is observed in the absence of changes in maximal aerobic capacity, body weight, or dietary intake.

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