According to what is considered the first study of this type, and which was published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, Exercise can be as effective as prescription drugs to reduce high blood pressure (140 mm Hg).
While promising, the results should not convince patients to abandon their blood pressure medications in favor of an exercise regimen.
The researchers pooled data from 194 clinical trials analyzing the impact of drugs on systolic blood pressure reduction and 197 trials that analyze the impact of structured exercise. they involve a total of 39 742 people.
The structured exercise was classified as: resistance, which includes walking, running, running, cycling and swimming, and high-intensity interval training; dynamic resistance, which includes strength training, for example with dumbbells; isometric resistance, such as static push-up (plank); and a combination of resistance.
Three series of analyzes were performed: all types of exercise compared to all classes of medicines to lower blood pressure; different types of exercise compared to different types of drugs; and different intensities of exercise compared to different doses of drugs.
The results showed that blood pressure was lower in people treated with drugs than in those who followed structured exercise programs. But when analyzes were limited to those with high blood pressure, exercise appeared to be as effective as most drugs. In addition, exercise efficacy increases the higher the threshold used to set high blood pressure, that is, Any value above 140 mm Hg.
The researchers also found "convincing evidence that the combination of resistance and dynamic resistance training was effective in reducing systolic blood pressure." But the structured exercise trials were smaller and smaller than those of the medications.
Researchers point out that Prescriptions for medicines to lower blood pressure have increased considerably in recent years. In England alone, the number of adults prescribed increased by 50% between 2006 and 2016.