Hypertension and Exercise Training: Evidence from Clinical Studies

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2017:1000:65-84. doi: 10.1007/978-981-10-4304-8_5.


Hypertension is a worldwide prevalent disease, mostly manifested as its primary ethiology, characterized by a chronic, multifactorial, asymptomatic, and usually incurable state. It is estimated that more than one billion of the world population is hypertensive. Also, hypertension is the main cause of the two most frequent causes of death worldwide: myocardial infarction and stroke. Due to the necessity of the cardiovascular system to manage chronically increased levels of blood pressure, hypertension causes severe alterations in multiple organs, as the heart, vessels, kidneys, eyes and brain, thus increasing the risk of health complications. The heart is the main target organ and suffers several adaptations to compensate the increased blood pressure levels; nevertheless, long-term adaptations without proper control are extremely harmful to cardiovascular health. On the other hand, hypertension is a modifiable risk factor and its adequate control is highly dependent on lifestyle. Pharmacological treatment is of great success when adherence is high. Several classes of antihypertensive drugs are prescribed and can effectively maintain blood pressure within acceptable levels. However, non-pharmacological methods, as diet and exercise training, can not only optimize the treatment but also prevent or postpone hypertension development as well as its complications, acting as important complements to the ideal control of elevated blood pressure, and bringing together benefits beyond blood pressure decrease, as a general health status improvement and increased quality of life. There is consistent evidence that regular exercise training promotes several benefits when properly prescribed and practised, acting as "medicine" for dozens of chronic diseases. The effects of exercise training in blood pressure levels and in its mechanisms of control are of clinical relevance and efficacy. This chapter will describe the classical and recent results on the beneficial effects of different modalities of exercise training in the cardiovascular system of human primary hypertension, focusing on the mechanisms influenced by exercise training which help to decrease blood pressure and improve the cardiovascular system.

Keywords: Blood pressure; Cardiovascular system; Exercise training; Hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / drug therapy
  • Hypertension / physiopathology*
  • Hypertension / rehabilitation*
  • Quality of Life


  • Antihypertensive Agents