Effects of low-intensity exercise on blood pressure, heart rate, rate-pressure-product and cardiac autonomic function in hypertensive women
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The effects of a twelve-week low-intensity exercise conditioning program on blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), rate-pressure-product (RPP) and cardiac autonomic function were examined in menopausal and post menopausal women with hypertension. Eligible participants (n=50) were counterbalanced to either the exercise group or the control group. Using a pretest-posttest design, participants were tested at the beginning and the end of the 12-week study period, in which BP, HR, RPP, heart rate variability and spontaneous baroreflex sensitivity were measured at rest and during standing and low intensity steady-state exercise. The exercise group participated in a 12-week, low-intensity walking program, 5 days/week, while the comparison group continued with usual activity. The exercise group adhered to 4 walking sessions per week while the control group averaged 0.6 walking sessions per week. Repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) demonstrated a reduction in systolic and diastolic BP and RPP in hypertensive women. Additionally, the low intensity exercise conditioning program attenuated the physiological response to stress (standing, exercise). This was evidenced by decreased systolic and diastolic BP and RPP in the exercise group and increased diastolic BP in the control group. Postmenopausal women demonstrated decreased log transformed high frequency power and total power in comparison to menopausal women. However, postmenopausal women also showed decreased low frequency power in comparison to menopausal women. It was concluded that a 12-week, low-intensity exercise conditioning program reduced systolic and diastolic BP and RPP in hypertensive women while attenuating their physiological responses to stress.