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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.