Exercise training and resting blood pressure: a large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials

Br J Sports Med. 2023 Oct;57(20):1317-1326. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2022-106503. Epub 2023 Jul 25.


Objective: To perform a large-scale pairwise and network meta-analysis on the effects of all relevant exercise training modes on resting blood pressure to establish optimal antihypertensive exercise prescription practices.

Design: Systematic review and network meta-analysis.

Data sources: PubMed (Medline), the Cochrane library and Web of Science were systematically searched.

Eligibility criteria: Randomised controlled trials published between 1990 and February 2023. All relevant work reporting reductions in systolic blood pressure (SBP) and/or diastolic blood pressure (DBP) following an exercise intervention of ≥2 weeks, with an eligible non-intervention control group, were included.

Results: 270 randomised controlled trials were ultimately included in the final analysis, with a pooled sample size of 15 827 participants. Pairwise analyses demonstrated significant reductions in resting SBP and DBP following aerobic exercise training (-4.49/-2.53 mm Hg, p<0.001), dynamic resistance training (-4.55/-3.04 mm Hg, p<0.001), combined training (-6.04/-2.54 mm Hg, p<0.001), high-intensity interval training (-4.08/-2.50 mm Hg, p<0.001) and isometric exercise training (-8.24/-4.00 mm Hg, p<0.001). As shown in the network meta-analysis, the rank order of effectiveness based on the surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) values for SBP were isometric exercise training (SUCRA: 98.3%), combined training (75.7%), dynamic resistance training (46.1%), aerobic exercise training (40.5%) and high-intensity interval training (39.4%). Secondary network meta-analyses revealed isometric wall squat and running as the most effective submodes for reducing SBP (90.4%) and DBP (91.3%), respectively.

Conclusion: Various exercise training modes improve resting blood pressure, particularly isometric exercise. The results of this analysis should inform future exercise guideline recommendations for the prevention and treatment of arterial hypertension.

Keywords: exercise; exercise training; preventive medicine; sports medicine.

Publication types

  • Systematic Review
  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antihypertensive Agents
  • Blood Pressure / physiology
  • Exercise / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hypertension* / prevention & control
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antihypertensive Agents