Background: We conducted meta-analyses examining the effects of endurance, dynamic resistance, combined endurance and resistance training, and isometric resistance training on resting blood pressure (BP) in adults. The aims were to quantify and compare BP changes for each training modality and identify patient subgroups exhibiting the largest BP changes.
Methods and results: Randomized controlled trials lasting ≥4 weeks investigating the effects of exercise on BP in healthy adults (age ≥18 years) and published in a peer-reviewed journal up to February 2012 were included. Random effects models were used for analyses, with data reported as weighted means and 95% confidence interval. We included 93 trials, involving 105 endurance, 29 dynamic resistance, 14 combined, and 5 isometric resistance groups, totaling 5223 participants (3401 exercise and 1822 control). Systolic BP (SBP) was reduced after endurance (-3.5 mm Hg [confidence limits -4.6 to -2.3]), dynamic resistance (-1.8 mm Hg [-3.7 to -0.011]), and isometric resistance (-10.9 mm Hg [-14.5 to -7.4]) but not after combined training. Reductions in diastolic BP (DBP) were observed after endurance (-2.5 mm Hg [-3.2 to -1.7]), dynamic resistance (-3.2 mm Hg [-4.5 to -2.0]), isometric resistance (-6.2 mm Hg [-10.3 to -2.0]), and combined (-2.2 mm Hg [-3.9 to -0.48]) training. BP reductions after endurance training were greater (P<0.0001) in 26 study groups of hypertensive subjects (-8.3 [-10.7 to -6.0]/-5.2 [-6.8 to -3.4] mm Hg) than in 50 groups of prehypertensive subjects (-2.1 [-3.3 to -0.83]/-1.7 [-2.7 to -0.68]) and 29 groups of subjects with normal BP levels (-0.75 [-2.2 to +0.69]/-1.1 [-2.2 to -0.068]). BP reductions after dynamic resistance training were largest for prehypertensive participants (-4.0 [-7.4 to -0.5]/-3.8 [-5.7 to -1.9] mm Hg) compared with patients with hypertension or normal BP.
Conclusion: Endurance, dynamic resistance, and isometric resistance training lower SBP and DBP, whereas combined training lowers only DBP. Data from a small number of isometric resistance training studies suggest this form of training has the potential for the largest reductions in SBP.