Time-efficient physical activity interventions to reduce blood pressure in older adults: a randomised controlled trial.
Background: Hypertension is a risk factor for both cardiovascular and cerebrovascular disease, with an increasing incidence with advancing patient age. Exercise interventions have the potential to reduce blood pressure in older adults, however, rates of exercise uptake and adherence are low, with 'lack of time' a commonly cited reason. As such, there remains the need for time-efficient physical activity interventions to reduce blood pressure in older adults. Objective: To compare the effect of three, novel time-efficient physical activity interventions on resting blood pressure in older adults. Methods: Forty-eight, healthy, community-dwelling older adults (mean age: 71 years) were recruited to a 6-week randomised control trial. Resting blood pressure was measured before and after one of three supervised, time-efficient interventions: high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a cycle ergometer; isometric handgrip training (IHG); unilateral, upper limb remote ischaemic preconditioning (RIPC) or non-intervention control. Results: Both HIIT and IHG led to a statistically significant reduction in resting systolic blood pressure (SBP) of 9 mmHg, with no significant change in the RIPC or control groups. There was no change in diastolic blood pressure or pulse pressure in any group. Conclusions: Supervised HIIT or IHG using the protocols described in this study can lead to statistically significant and clinically relevant reductions in resting SBP in healthy older adults in just 6 weeks.