Intensity and frequency of physical activity and high blood pressure in adolescents: A longitudinal study

J Clin Hypertens (Greenwich). 2020 Feb;22(2):283-290. doi: 10.1111/jch.13806. Epub 2020 Jan 19.


Despite limited evidence on the association between physical activity (PA) and blood pressure (BP) in youth, experts recommend that adolescents engage regularly in moderate-to-vigorous PA. We examined the relationships between PA intensity and frequency and the likelihood of having high BP in a population-based cohort of adolescents from Montréal, Canada. PA was self-reported every 3 months from grade 7 to 11, and BP was measured at ages 12.8, 15.2, and 17.0 years on average. We analyzed data from 993 participants (mean [SD] age = 16.0 [1.0], 51.6% female) with BP data at ages 15.2 and/or 17.0 years, using pooled ordinal logistic regression. BP (normal/elevated/hypertensive range) was the outcome, and past-year PA intensity and frequency were potential predictors. Eight percent of participants had elevated BP (120-129/<80), and 3.2% had BP in the hypertensive range (≥130/≥80). Participants engaged in a median (interquartile range) of 7.0 (4.5, 9.3) and 5.5 (2, 10.8) moderate and vigorous PA sessions/week, respectively. After adjusting for age, sex, mother's education, use of alcohol and cigarette consumption, engaging in PA more intense than light during the previous year was associated with a lower odds of having BP in the hypertensive range (ORs [95% CIs] = 0.93 [0.88, 0.97] to 0.97 [0.94, 0.99]). The relationships were not altered by adjusting for BMI. Our findings support recommendations that adolescents engage in at least moderate PA on a regular basis to prevent development of BP in the hypertensive range.

Keywords: adolescents; blood pressure; hypertension; physical activity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Blood Pressure
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male

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