Does physical activity lower blood pressure: a critical review of the clinical trials

J Clin Epidemiol. 1992 May;45(5):439-47. doi: 10.1016/0895-4356(92)90093-3.


This review critically appraises 22 recent articles of trials of physical activity, as a means of reducing blood pressure. The quality of the literature remains poor and of the 13 controlled trials of habitual activity only one did not have a major design fault. Overall, blood pressure was reduced by physical activity in both hypertensive and normotensive persons. This effect was independent of weight loss and in some studies blood pressure reduction occurred in the presence of weight gain. The average reduction in the better designed studies was approximately 6-7 mmHg for both systolic and diastolic blood pressure which compares favourably with studies of pharmacological treatment. The better designed studies reported smaller reductions than studies with poorer design. All activities, including circuit weight training, lowered blood pressure and daily activity produced greater blood pressure reduction than when performed three times per week. It is concluded that physical activity has an independent capacity to lower blood pressure.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Pressure*
  • Cardiac Output
  • Clinical Trials as Topic*
  • Epinephrine / blood
  • Female
  • Hemodynamics
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Norepinephrine / blood
  • Physical Exertion*
  • Research Design


  • Norepinephrine
  • Epinephrine