Regular physical activity is recommended for overall cardiovascular health. For improvement, 40 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous activity on 3-4 days per week is recommended, which can be facilitated by regular participation in CrossFit. CrossFit is a form of high intensity functional training that can be adapted to each individual according to age and ability level and has >6000 affiliates nationwide.
PURPOSE: To identify associations between regular CrossFit participation and resting blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), and perceptions of improved health.
METHODS: Participants included 20 individuals (18-66 yrs, 50% male) who attended CrossFit during the entire 12-month program evaluation study through K-State CrossFit. Health assessments were conducted at baseline, 2-, 6-, and 12-months and included measurements of resting BP and resting HR after 5-minutes of rest. Surveys completed at baseline and 12 months gauged intentions and perceptions of CrossFit participation to reduce BP and risk for coronary heart disease (CHD). Survey responses were assessed on a scale from -3 “strongly disagree” to 3 “strongly agree”. SPSS 20 was used to analyze changes in resting BP and HR using repeated measures ANOVA, and t-tests for survey responses.
RESULTS: Mean values for systolic BP decreased from 123.8±14.6 mmHg at baseline, to 119.4±15.5-16.2 mmHg at 2- and 6-months, and 115.9±17.4 mmHg at 12 months. There was a significant main effect for systolic BP, ƒ(3,1)=4.585, p=.006. Mean diastolic BP decreased from 75.5±8.6 mmHg at baseline to 71.9±10.8 mmHg at 12 months but there was no significant main effect, ƒ(3,1)=1.612, p=.197. Mean values for resting HR from 2 months (61.7±8.2 BPM) to 12 months (65.8±9.3 BPM) were not significant (p=.13). Survey responses were not significant for reduced BP (p=.19) and reduced risk for CHD (p=.24).
CONCLUSION: Results indicate that regular CrossFit participation can significantly decrease resting systolic BP in healthy adults. However, participants did not express BP or CHD reduction as an intention or perceived outcome of doing CrossFit. Future studies should examine the effects of CrossFit participation on individuals at risk for heart disease by examining their motivational factors and additional indicators of heart health such as blood cholesterol and lipid levels.