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Claire C. Murchison, Avery Ironside, Lila M.A. Hedayat, and Heather J.A. Foulds

Background: North American indigenous populations experience higher rates of obesity and chronic disease compared with nonindigenous populations. Improvements in musculoskeletal fitness can mitigate negative health outcomes, but is not well understood among indigenous populations. This review examines musculoskeletal fitness measures among North American indigenous populations. Methods: A total of 1632 citations were evaluated and 18 studies were included. Results: Comparisons of musculoskeletal fitness measures between North American indigenous men and boys and women and girls were generally not reported. The greatest left and right combined maximal grip strength and maximal leg strength among Inuit boys and men and girls and women were observed among 20–29 years age group. Maximal combined right and left grip strength declined from 1970 to 1990, by an average of 15% among adults and 10% among youth. Maximal leg extension among Inuit has declined even further, averaging 38% among adults and 27% among youth from 1970 to 1990. Inuit men demonstrate greater grip strength and lower leg strength than Russian indigenous men, whereas Inuit women demonstrate greater leg strength. Conclusions: Further research is needed to better understand physical fitness among indigenous peoples and the potential for improving health and reducing chronic disease risk for indigenous peoples through physical fitness.

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Jongbum Ko, Dalton Deprez, Keely Shaw, Jane Alcorn, Thomas Hadjistavropoulos, Corey Tomczak, Heather Foulds, and Philip D. Chilibeck

Background: Aerobic exercise is recommended for reducing blood pressure; however, recent studies indicate that stretching may also be effective. The authors compared 8 weeks of stretching versus walking exercise in men and women with high–normal blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension (ie, 130/85–159/99 mm Hg). Methods: Forty men and women (61.6 y) were randomized to a stretching or brisk walking exercise program (30 min/d, 5 d/wk for 8 wk). Blood pressure was assessed during sitting and supine positions and for 24 hours using a portable monitor before and after the training programs. Results: The stretching program elicited greater reductions than the walking program (P < .05) for sitting systolic (146 [9] to 140 [12] vs 139 [9] to 142 [12] mm Hg), supine diastolic (85 [7] to 78 [8] vs 81 [7] to 82 [7] mm Hg), and nighttime diastolic (67 [8] to 65 [10] vs 68 [8] to 73 [12] mm Hg) blood pressures. The stretching program elicited greater reductions than the walking program (P < .05) for mean arterial pressure assessed in sitting (108 [7] to 103 [6] vs 105 [6] vs 105 [8] mm Hg), supine (102 [9] to 96 [9] vs 99 [6] to 99 [7] mm Hg), and at night (86 [9] to 83 [10] vs 88 [9] to 93 [12] mm Hg). Conclusions: An 8-week stretching program was superior to brisk walking for reducing blood pressure in individuals with high–normal blood pressure or stage 1 hypertension.