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Effects of exercise, diet and their combination on blood pressure


Epidemiological studies suggest an inverse relationship between physical activity or fitness and blood pressure. In a meta-analysis of 44 randomized controlled intervention trials, the weighted net change in conventional systolic/diastolic blood pressure in response to dynamic aerobic training averaged −3.4/−2.4 mmHg (P<0.001). The effect on blood pressure was more pronounced in hypertensives than in normotensives. This type of training also lowered the blood pressure measured during ambulatory monitoring and during exercise. However, exercise appears to be less effective than diet in lowering blood pressure (P<0.02), and adding exercise to diet does not seem to further reduce blood pressure.

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This work was commissioned by the Factors Affecting Hypertension Task Force of the European branch of the International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI Europe). At the time of the workshop, industry members of this task force were Frito Lay, Kellog, RHM Technology, Unilever and Valio. Further infor-mation about ILSI Europe can be obtained through or tel. +32 (0) 2 771 0014.

The author gratefully acknowledge the secretarial assistance of N Ausseloos. R Fagard is holder of the Professor A Amery Chair in Hypertension Research, founded by Merck, Sharp & Dohme, Belgium.

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Fagard, R. Effects of exercise, diet and their combination on blood pressure. J Hum Hypertens 19 (Suppl 3), S20–S24 (2005).

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