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High-intensity interval training for reducing blood pressure: a randomized trial vs. moderate-intensity continuous training in males with overweight or obesity


The optimal exercise-training characteristics for reducing blood pressure (BP) are unclear. We investigated the effects of 6-weeks of high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or moderate-intensity continuous training (MICT) on BP and aortic stiffness in males with overweight or obesity. Twenty-eight participants (18–45 years; BMI: 25–35 kg/m2) performed stationary cycling three times per week for 6 weeks. Participants were randomly allocated (unblinded) to work-matched HIIT (N = 16; 10 × 1-min intervals at 90–100% peak workload) or MICT (N = 12; 30 min at 65–75% peak heart rate). Central (aortic) and peripheral (brachial) BP and aortic stiffness was assessed before and after training. There were no significant group × time interactions for any BP measure (all p > 0.21). HIIT induced moderate reductions in central (systolic/diastolic ∆: −4.6/−3.5 mmHg, effect size d = −0.51/−0.40) and peripheral BP (−5.2/−4 mmHg, d = −0.45/−0.47). MICT induced moderate reductions in diastolic BP only (peripheral: −3.4 mmHg, d = −0.57; central: −3 mmHg, d = −0.50). The magnitude of improvement in BP was strongly negatively correlated with baseline BP (r = −0.66 to −0.78), with stronger correlations observed for HIIT (r = −0.73 to −0.88) compared with MICT (r = −0.43 to −0.61). HIIT was effective for reducing BP (~3–5 mmHg) in the overweight to obese cohort. Exercise training induced positive changes in central (aortic) BP. The BP-lowering effects of exercise training are more prominent in those with higher baseline BP, with stronger correlation in HIIT than MICT.

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Author information




TC, RM, SH, MR, LM, AR, AF, CM and LC recruited participants and collected study data. TC, RM, MJ and AK analysed and interpreted the study data. TC, RM and AK wrote the manuscript. AK and RW designed the study.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Andrew Keech.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Clark, T., Morey, R., Jones, M.D. et al. High-intensity interval training for reducing blood pressure: a randomized trial vs. moderate-intensity continuous training in males with overweight or obesity. Hypertens Res 43, 396–403 (2020).

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  • HIIT
  • MICT
  • Exercise training
  • Post-exercise hypotension
  • Hypertension

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