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Exercise intensity and hypertension: what’s new?


One bout of aerobic exercise and regular participation in aerobic exercise has been shown to result in a lowering of office and ambulatory blood pressure of hypertensive individuals. Higher-intensity aerobic exercise, up to 70% of maximal oxygen consumption, does not produce a greater hypotensive effect, compared with moderate-intensity aerobic exercise. Intermittent aerobic and anaerobic exercise, however, performed at an intensity >70% of maximal oxygen uptake has been shown to significantly reduce office and ambulatory blood pressure of hypertensive individuals. Thus, faster, more intense forms of exercise can also bring about blood pressure reduction in the hypertensive population. Compared with continuous moderate-intensity aerobic exercise, high-intensity intermittent exercise typically results in a greater aerobic fitness increase in less time and produces greater changes in arterial stiffness, endothelial function, insulin resistance and mitochondrial biogenesis. One of the characteristics of high-intensity intermittent training is that it typically involves markedly lower training volume compared with traditional aerobic and resistance exercise programmes making it a time-efficient strategy to accrue adaptations and blood pressure benefits. This review briefly summarizes the results of studies that have examined the effects of single and repeated bouts of aerobic and resistance exercise on office and ambulatory blood pressure of hypertensive individuals. Then a more detailed summary of studies examining the effect of high-intensity intermittent exercise and training on hypertension is provided.

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Correspondence to S H Boutcher.

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Boutcher, Y., Boutcher, S. Exercise intensity and hypertension: what’s new?. J Hum Hypertens 31, 157–164 (2017).

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