The effects of stair climbing on arterial stiffness, blood pressure, and leg strength in postmenopausal women with stage 2 hypertension

Menopause. 2018 Jul;25(7):731-737. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000001072.


Objective: Menopause is accompanied by a progressive arterial stiffening associated with increases in blood pressure (BP) and decline in muscular function. It is crucial to prevent or reduce the negative effects of menopause on vascular and muscular function by implementing appropriate lifestyle interventions, such as exercise training. We examined the effects of a stair climbing (SC) regimen on arterial stiffness (pulse wave velocity [PWV]), BP, and leg strength in postmenopausal women with stage 2 hypertension.

Methods: Using a parallel experimental design, participants were randomly assigned to either SC (n = 21) or nonexercising control group (n = 20) for 12 weeks. Participants in the SC group trained 4 d/wk, climbing 192 steps 2 to 5 times/d. Participants' brachial-to-ankle PWV (baPWV), BP, and leg strength were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks of their assigned intervention.

Results: There was a significant group by time interaction (P < 0.05) for baPWV, and systolic BP (SBP) and diastolic BP (DBP) which significantly decreased (P < 0.05), and leg strength which significantly increased (P < 0.05) after SC compared with no changes in the control. The changes in baPWV were correlated with changes in SBP (r = 0.66, P < 0.05) and leg strength (r = -0.47, P < 0.05).

Conclusions: SC led to reductions in arterial stiffness, BP, and increases in leg strength in stage 2 hypertensive postmenopausal women. The decrease in arterial stiffness partially explained the improvements in SBP and leg strength. SC may be an effective intervention in the prevention and treatment of menopause/aging-related vascular complications and muscle weakness.

Trial registration: NCT03254251.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Pressure / physiology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Leg / physiopathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Strength / physiology*
  • Postmenopause / physiology
  • Stair Climbing / physiology*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vascular Stiffness / physiology*

Associated data