According to one study, moderate to vigorous intensity strength training performed 2 to 3 times a week is an effective method for mitigating high blood pressure.
Reducing blood pressure through aerobic exercise is well studied, but few studies have been conducted on the effects of strength exercise on hypertension.
More than 21,000 studies were analyzed for this review and a Cochrane meta-analysis was also performed. The review focused on the effects of variables including dose-response training, age, load, frequency, and volume.
Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, and hypertension accounts for 13.8% of deaths from cardiovascular disease. Hypertension is when the systolic blood pressure is above 140 mmHg and/or the diastolic blood pressure is above 90 mmHg. Hypertension is a multifactorial condition triggered by problems such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption and an unhealthy diet.
While strength training is an option known to help manage blood pressure, there isn’t enough evidence on the most effective protocol. This study involved 253 hypertensive individuals with a mean age of 59.66 years, with the meta-analysis focusing on baseline and post-exercise hypertension responses to studies evaluating the impact of training for 8 weeks or longer.
An average of 8-10 weeks of strength training resulted in a systolic blood pressure reduction of 10 mmHg and a diastolic blood pressure reduction of 4.79 mmHg. Effective results appeared around the 20th training session. Blood pressure remained reduced for about 14 weeks after training was stopped.
For this systematic review, a total of 21,132 studies were analyzed to find strong evidence for the impact of strength training on hypertension. Evidence has been found in previous studies, but this study gathered more evidence on the influence of load, age, frequency, and intensity. After 21,035 studies that did not meet the objectives were excluded, 43 of the remaining 97 studies were excluded due to duplication, leaving 54 studies for analysis with 14 considered relevant enough to be included in the review.
The results of the analysis revealed that strength training with moderate to vigorous intensity loads was the most effective for lowering blood pressure, with a minimum frequency of twice a week and a minimum duration of 8 weeks.
Loads of moderate to vigorous intensity were classified as more than 60% of the heaviest weight that could be lifted only once by the participants, known as the 1-rep max, so that for up to 1 rep of 10kg a Training load greater than 6kg would be the most effective.
Most of the study participants were between the ages of 60 and 68. A subgroup analysis found more about how age influenced the impact of strength training, which revealed significantly greater blood pressure reductions in the 18-50 year age group compared to the older age group. between 51 and 70 years old. group.
Previous research has shown that strength training increases heart rate, as well as the production of nitrous oxide, which promotes vasodilation by expanding the diameter of blood vessels and increasing blood flow.
In the long run, it facilitates adaptations that include improved heart efficiency, decreased resting heart rate, decreased blood pressure, and higher VO2max, which is the maximum rate of oxygen uptake achievable during vigorous exercise. VO2max is associated with cardiovascular health and is typically measured in milliliters of oxygen/kilogram of body weight/minute.
Some of the limitations of the analysis were the inclusion of individuals taking antihypertensive medications in 11 of the 14 studies, which included beta-blockers, ACE inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics. Furthermore, in some studies women and men were included in the same group, which impeded a gender-sensitive analysis.
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