OBJECTIVE: Abnormally elevated exercise blood pressure is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Aerobic exercise training has been shown to reduce exercise blood pressure. However, it is unknown whether these improvements occur in a dose-dependent manner. The purpose of the present study was to determine the effect of different doses of aerobic exercise training on exercise blood pressure in obese postmenopausal women.
METHODS: Participants (N = 404) were randomized to one of four groups-groups with 4, 8, or 12 kcal/kg of energy expenditure per week or a nonexercise control group-for 6 months. Exercise blood pressure was obtained during the 50-watt stage of a cycle ergometer maximal exercise test.
RESULTS: There was a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure at 50 watts in the 4 kcal/kg per week (-10.9 mm Hg, P < 0.001), 8 kcal/kg per week (-9.9 mm Hg, P = 0.022), and 12 kcal/kg per week (-13.7 mm Hg, P < 0.001) compared with control (-4.2 mm Hg). Only the highest exercise training dose significantly reduced diastolic blood pressure (-4.3 mm Hg, P = 0.033) compared with control. In addition, resting blood pressure was not altered after exercise training (P > 0.05) compared with control and was not associated with changes in exercise systolic (r = 0.09, P = 0.09) or diastolic (r = 0.10, P = 0.08) blood pressure.
CONCLUSIONS: Aerobic exercise training reduces exercise blood pressure and may be more modifiable than changes in resting blood pressure. A high dose of aerobic exercise is recommended to successfully reduce both exercise systolic and diastolic blood pressure and therefore may attenuate the cardiovascular disease risk associated with abnormally elevated exercise blood pressure.