The blood pressure-lowering effect of a single bout of resistance exercise: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2016 Nov;23(16):1700-1714. doi: 10.1177/2047487316664147. Epub 2016 Aug 10.


Background: Current exercise guidelines recommend aerobic types of exercises on most days of the week, supplemented with dynamic resistance exercise twice weekly. Whereas the blood pressure (BP)-lowering effects of a single session of aerobic exercise have been well studied, less is known about the hypotensive effect of a single bout of resistance exercise.

Objectives: To evaluate the transient effect of resistance exercise on BP by means of meta-analytic techniques.

Methods: A systematic electronic search in Medline, Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO), Latin American and Caribbean Health Sciences Literature (LILACS), Elton B Stephens Company (EBSCO), EMBASE and SPORTDiscus was completed in March 2015 identifying randomised controlled trials investigating the effect of a single bout of resistance exercise on resting or ambulatory BP in healthy adults. A subsequent meta-analysis was performed.

Results: The meta-analysis involved 30 studies, 81 interventions and 646 participants (normotensive (n = 505) or hypertensive (n = 141)). A single bout of resistance exercise elicited small-to-moderate reductions in office systolic BP at 60 minutes postexercise [-3.3 (-4.0 to -2.6)/-2.7 (-3.2 to -2.1) mmHg (CI 95%)], 90 minutes postexercise [-5.3 (-8.5 to -2.1)/-4.7 (-6.9 to -2.4) mmHg (CI 95%)] and in 24-hour ambulatory BP [-1.7 (-2.8 to -0.67)/-1.2 (-2.4 to -0.022) mmHg (CI 95%)] compared to a control session. The reduction in office BP was more pronounced in hypertensive compared to normotensive individuals (p < 0.01), when using larger muscle groups (p < 0.05) and when participants were recovering in the supine position (p < 0.01).

Conclusion: A single bout of resistance exercise can have a BP-lowering effect that last for up to 24 hours. Supine recovery and the use of larger muscle groups resulted in greater BP reductions after resistance exercise.

Keywords: Cardiovascular physiology; hypertensive; normotensive; strength.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Exercise Tolerance / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / rehabilitation*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic*