(HealthDay News) — Exercise can consistently yield reductions in blood pressure, according to a meta-analysis published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Huseyin Naci, PhD, from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and colleagues conducted a meta-analysis of 391 randomized clinical trials, 197 of which evaluated exercise interventions (10,461 participants) and 194 of which evaluated antihypertensive medications (29,281 participants). Exercise interventions included endurance, dynamic resistance, isometric resistance, and combined endurance and resistance exercise, while medication trials included angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs), angiotensin-2 receptor blockers (ARBs), β-blockers, calcium channel blockers, and diuretics.

The researchers found that no trials directly compared exercise to medications. However, in analyses that combined all populations, antihypertensive medications achieved greater reductions in baseline systolic blood pressure (SBP) than exercise interventions. All types of exercise and all classes of antihypertensive medications were effective in lowering baseline SBP compared with no intervention. There were no significant differences in the SBP-lowering effects of ACEI, ARB, β-blocker, and diuretic medications versus endurance or dynamic resistance exercise among hypertensive populations.

“It’s one thing to recommend that physicians start prescribing exercise to their patients, but we also need to be cognizant of the resource implications and ensure that the patients that have been referred to exercise interventions can adhere to them and so really derive benefit,” Naci said in a statement.

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