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Effect of resistance training on resting blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Cornelissen, Véronique A; Fagard, Robert H


Objective To assess the influence of resistance training on resting blood pressure in healthy sedentary adults.

Methods A comprehensive literature search with the MEDLINE computerized database was conducted and reference lists of published articles and reviews on the topic were checked. Inclusion criteria were as follows: the study involved a randomized, controlled trial; resistance training was the sole intervention; participants were sedentary normotensive and/or hypertensive adults with no other concomitant disease; the article was published in a peer-reviewed journal up to December 2003. We identified nine randomized controlled trials, involving 12 study groups and 341 participants. A standard protocol was used to extract information on sample size, participant characteristics, study design, training method and duration, and study outcomes. Pooled blood pressure estimates were obtained, weighted by either the number of participants in the training group or the inverse of the variance for blood pressure change.

Results The weighted net changes of blood pressure, after adjustment for control observations, averaged −3.2 [95% confidence limits (CL) −7.1 to +0.7]/−3.5 (95% CL −6.1 to −0.9) mmHg when weighted for the number of trained participants, and −6.0 (95% CL −10.4 to −1.6)/ −4.7 (95% CL −8.1 to −1.4) mmHg, when weighted by the reciprocal of the variance for the blood pressure change.

Conclusions Our results suggest that moderate intensity resistance training is not contraindicated and could become part of the non-pharmacological intervention strategy to prevent and combat high blood pressure. However, additional studies are needed, especially in the hypertensive population.

Hypertension and Cardiovascular Rehabilitation Unit, Department of Molecular and Cardiovascular Research, Faculty of Medicine, Catholic University of Leuven, K.U.Leuven, Leuven, Belgium

Received 10 May, 2003

Revised 2 August, 2004

Accepted 20 September, 2004

Correspondence and requests for reprints to R. Fagard, MD, PhD, Prof. of Medicine, U.Z. Gasthuisberg - Hypertensie, Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium. Tel: +32 16 348707; fax: +32 16 343766; e-mail:

Presented at the 3rd Forum on Sport and Science, 15 May 2004, Monte-Carlo

© 2005 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.