The purpose of this study was to use the meta-analytic approach to examine the effects of exercise on resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure in children and adolescents. Twenty-five studies that included 84 groups (45 exercise, 39 control) and 3,189 subjects (1,885 exercise, 1,304 control) met the criteria for inclusion. Using a random effects model, non-significant decreases of approximately 2% were found for resting systolic (mean – SEM, –2 – 1 mmHg, 95% CI, –4 to 1 mmHg) and diastolic (mean – SEM, –1 – 1 mmHg, 95% CI, –3 to 1 mmHg) blood pressure. Greater decreases in resting systolic blood pressure were found for nonrandomized versus randomized controlled trials (p = 0.001). There was also a statistically significant association between changes in resting systolic blood pressure and initial blood pressure (r = 0.73, p < 0.001) and body weight (r = 0.64, p < 0.001). However, when limited to randomized trials, these results were no longer statistically significant. The results of this study suggest that exercise does not reduce resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure in children and adolescents. However, a need exists for additional randomized controlled trials, especially among hypertensive children and adolescents.
The authors are with the School of Medicine, Department of Community Medicine, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV.