Acute Effects of Exercise on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analytic Investigation

Arq Bras Cardiol. 2016 May;106(5):422-33. doi: 10.5935/abc.20160064. Epub 2016 May 6.
[Article in English, Portuguese]


Hypertension affects 25% of the world's population and is considered a risk factor for cardiovascular disorders and other diseases. The aim of this study was to examine the evidence regarding the acute effect of exercise on blood pressure (BP) using meta-analytic measures. Sixty-five studies were compared using effect sizes (ES), and heterogeneity and Z tests to determine whether the ES were different from zero. The mean corrected global ES for exercise conditions were -0.56 (-4.80 mmHg) for systolic BP (sBP) and -0.44 (-3.19 mmHg) for diastolic BP (dBP; z ≠ 0 for all; p < 0.05). The reduction in BP was significant regardless of the participant's initial BP level, gender, physical activity level, antihypertensive drug intake, type of BP measurement, time of day in which the BP was measured, type of exercise performed, and exercise training program (p < 0.05 for all). ANOVA tests revealed that BP reductions were greater if participants were males, not receiving antihypertensive medication, physically active, and if the exercise performed was jogging. A significant inverse correlation was found between age and BP ES, body mass index (BMI) and sBP ES, duration of the exercise's session and sBP ES, and between the number of sets performed in the resistance exercise program and sBP ES (p < 0.05). Regardless of the characteristics of the participants and exercise, there was a reduction in BP in the hours following an exercise session. However, the hypotensive effect was greater when the exercise was performed as a preventive strategy in those physically active and without antihypertensive medication.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Blood Pressure Determination
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Post-Exercise Hypotension / physiopathology
  • Resistance Training / standards*