Objective: Menopause is associated with increased arterial stiffness and reduced muscle strength. Combined resistance (RE) and endurance (EE) exercise training can decrease brachial-ankle pulse wave velocity (baPWV), an index of arterial stiffness, in young men. We tested the hypothesis that combined circuit RE and EE training would improve baPWV, blood pressure (BP), and muscle strength in postmenopausal women.
Methods: Twenty-four postmenopausal women (age 47-68 y) were randomly assigned to a "no exercise" control (n = 12) or to combined exercise training (EX; n = 12) group. The EX group performed concurrent circuit RE training followed by EE training at 60% of the predicted maximal heart rate (HR) 3 days per week. Brachial systolic BP, diastolic BP, mean arterial pressure, baPWV, HR, and dynamic and isometric muscle strength were measured before and after the 12-week study.
Results: Mean ± SE baPWV (−0.8 ± 0.2 meters/s), systolic BP (−6.0 ± 1.9 mm Hg), diastolic BP (−4.8 ± 1.7 mm Hg), HR (−4.0 ± 1.0 beats/min), and mean arterial pressure (−5.1 ± 1.6 mm Hg) decreased (P < 0.05), whereas dynamic leg strength (5.1 ± 1.0 vs 0.6 ± 1.0 kg for the EX and control groups, respectively) and isometric handgrip strength (2.8 ± 0.7 vs −0.6 ± 1.2 kg) increased (P < 0.05) in the EX group but not in the control group.
Conclusions: Our findings indicate that a 12-week moderate-intensity combined circuit RE and EE training improves arterial stiffness, hemodynamics, and muscle strength in previously sedentary postmenopausal women. This study provides evidence that combined training may have important health implications for the prevention of hypertension and frailty in postmenopausal women.