Effect of Aerobic Exercise on Blood Pressure: A Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled Trials
Physical activity has been associated with reduced blood pressure in observational epidemiological studies and individual clinical trials. We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials to determine the effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure. We searched English-language articles published before June 2000. Thirty-nine randomized controlled trials (1,418 subjects) in which aerobic exercise was the only difference between the intervention and control groups were selected for the analysis. Employing a standardized protocol and data extraction form, two of the investigators independently abstracted data on study design, sample size, participant characteristics, type of intervention, follow-up duration, and treatment outcomes. Using a random-effects model, data from each trial was pooled and weighted by the inverse of its variance. Aerobic exercise was associated with a significant reduction in mean (95% confidence interval) systolic and diastolic blood pressure of -4.84 mm Hg (-3.30 to -6.37) and -3.12 mm Hg (-2.10 to -4.14), respectively. The reduction in blood pressure was similar in hypertensive and normotensive participants. This meta-analysis indicates that aerobic exercise reduces blood pressure in hypertensive and normotensive populations. An increase in aerobic physical activity should be considered as an important component of lifestyle modification for the prevention and treatment of high blood pressure.