Exercise training reduces arterial stiffness in adults with hypertension: a systematic review and meta-analysis

J Hypertens. 2021 Feb 1;39(2):214-222. doi: 10.1097/HJH.0000000000002619.


Objective: Arterial stiffness, namely pulse wave velocity (PWV), is an emerging biomarker in the assessment of vascular health. This meta-analysis aims to determine the effects of exercise training on PWV in patients with hypertension, and to identify the possible moderator variables (e.g. type of exercise) of the effect of exercise on PWV.

Methods: MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane and Web of Science were searched up until July 2019 for randomized controlled trials assessing the effect of exercise interventions lasting 4 or more weeks on PWV in adults with hypertension. Random-effects modelling was used to compare changes from pre to postintervention in PWV between exercise and control groups. Data were reported as weighted mean difference (WMD) and 95% confidence interval (95% CI). Protocol registration: PROSPERO registration number CRD42019138658.

Results: We included 14 trials (15 interventions), involving five aerobic, two dynamic resistance, six combined and two isometric resistance groups, totalling 642 participants with hypertension. PWV was significantly reduced by exercise training [(WMD (95% CI) = -0.76 m/s (-1.05 to -0.47)]. Analysis of moderator variables showed that aerobic exercise [WMD (95% CI) = -0.70 m/s (-1.20 to -0.19)], combined exercise [WMD (95% CI) = -0.74 m/s (-1.41 to -0.08)] and isometric resistance exercise [WMD (95% CI) = -0.98 m/s (-1.24 to -0.73)] reduced PWV. There was no significant reduction in PWV in participants undertaking dynamic resistance training [WMD (95% CI) = -0.58 (-1.58 to 0.42)].

Conclusion: This meta-analysis supports that exercise interventions based on aerobic, combined or isometric exercise are suitable to improve PWV in adults with hypertension.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Exercise
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / therapy
  • Pulse Wave Analysis
  • Resistance Training*
  • Vascular Stiffness*