Teenagers who participate in
high-intensity exercise have lower blood pressure
- A decrease in blood pressure below
resting values known as post-exercise hypotension was observed in
teenagers who underwent high-intensity exercise
- The fall in blood pressure lasted up
to one hour post-exercise and was not dependent on the stretch of the
carotid artery and the brain control of the heartbeat.
- Vigorous exercise
at a young age could have heart benefits later in life.
and can lower the risk of developing heart disease
later in life, according to new research conducted
by a research team
at the Children's Health & Exercise
Research Centre, University of Exeter and
published in Experimental
suggests that teenage years are when heart diseases start to develop. Doing
high-intensity exercise during this phase of life makes potential differences
in heart health benefits says the current study. The authors say this could
lead to a lower risk of developing heart disease later in life, although this
fact requires confirmation with further research.
of the Study
recruited healthy teenage males (12-15 years old) who were asked to undergo four
conducted at separate occasions across three weeks.
‘Teenage males, around 12-15 years old, who participated in high intensity exercise, experienced lower blood pressure lasting for one hour compared to kids who did moderate intensity exercise. Exercising and keeping the blood pressure at bay may lead to a lower risk of developing heart disease later in life.’
During the first visit, participants performed an exercise
test to calculate the intensity with which they could exercise.
After this first
visit, all participants went through three experimental conditions on separate
days in a random order; they were asked to perform
(8 bouts of one-minute's worth of running at a
3.Moderate intensity exercise (running at moderate
No exercise (control)
Parameters that were
monitored and measured were
- Blood pressure at every heartbeat before and
up to one-hour after the exercise
- Ultrasound images of the carotid
artery, the main blood vessels that supply the head and neck with
oxygenated blood (to determine the 'stretch' of the artery and how this
impacts the control of blood pressure following exercise)
Results of the Study
the vigorous intensity exercise (equal to running
close to the maximum heart rate) group, post-exercise hypotension was observed in the hours following
exercise; i.e., the blood pressure decreased below resting values; the
same effect was not observed following moderate intensity exercise where blood pressure was restored just
twenty minutes after exercise indicating that the vigorous intensity exercise was instrumental in causing post-exercise hypotension lasting up to
- The stretch of the carotid artery and the brain control of the
heartbeat which monitor and adjust blood pressure were similar between the two exercise intensity groups at
one-hour following exercise.
- These findings indicate that exercise intensity causes the
change in blood pressure by altering other mechanisms of adjustments,
one-hour following the completion of the exercise in healthy teenagers.
This is the first study that shows the dependency of
post-exercise hypotension on exercise intensity in healthy 12-15-year-olds.
The decrease in
blood pressure of healthy teenagers could have a long-term clinical importance
when it is translated to those who have high blood pressure. Similarly,
reducing blood pressure through exercise could lead to better blood pressure
control, particularly when young people face stressful situations.
shortcomings of the study were
The authors are
planning to expand these initial findings to children, and teenagers with
hypertension and other conditions such as obesity and low levels of fitness
that increase heart disease risk.
- All measurements were taken non-invasively
because the study group consisted of teenagers; this may have reduced
accuracy in comparison to more invasive drug-infusion methods.
- The research involved only boys, so
the findings cannot be extrapolated to girls.
- The observed blood pressure reduction
was measured only up to one-hour after a single bout of exercise.
research team also wish to investigate whether the decrease in blood pressure
causes lowering of vessel reactivity to stressful situations. Finally, the
effects of exercise training on blood pressure control following exercise in
teenagers remain to be seen.
Ricardo Oliveira, a
Brazilian Ph.D student funded through the Science without Borders Ph.D scheme
who led the research, enjoyed testing (and educating) the participants:
"The best part of the research was the involvement and dedication of the
participants, who we always find are better research participants than adults!
All were disappointed that the project came to an end and they reported to have
enjoyed visiting the university facilities, participating in a scientific study
and learning new information about their heart, blood vessels and how the
cardiovascular system responds to exercise."
An optimal blood pressure reading is considered to be under
. If the blood pressure is persistently higher than normal then a person is said to have high blood pressure
If the blood pressure has been high over a long time
it is considered one of the main risk factors for heart disease. The chances of
having persistently high blood pressure increases with age.
To keep blood pressure under control, aerobic exercise
(in which your heart beats harder
and you use more oxygen than usual), such as brisk walking, is very important. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise at least 2 and a half
hours per week, or vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise for 1 hour and 15
minutes per week is highly recommended to lower blood pressure.
- Ricardo Oliveira Alan R. Barker Florian Debras Alexandra O'Doherty Craig A. Williams "Mechanisms of blood pressure control following acute exercise in adolescents: Effects of exercise intensity on haemodynamics and baroreflex sensitivity" (2018) Experimental Physiology https://doi.org/10.1113/EP086999
- Blood pressure - (https://www.heartfoundation.org.au/your-heart/know-your-risks/blood-pressure)
- How to Prevent High Blood Pressure - (https://medlineplus.gov/howtopreventhighbloodpressure.html)