Elderly people are particularly affected by rising systolic blood pressure (SBP). We hypothesized that resting blood pressure (RBP)-reducing isometric exercise training (IET) can be delivered in a group setting with older adults.
Participants (63–88 years; N = 19) completed IET at 30% maximum voluntary contraction, 3 days a week for 12 weeks. RBP was measured weekly throughout, plus 6 weeks posttraining. Control participants did not engage in IET (N = 5). Changes in RBP were assessed using a 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance.
IET induced significant reductions in SBP (−10.5 mmHg; P < 0.05), but SBP also declined unexpectedly in the control group (−4.5 mmHg; P < 0.05). Diastolic blood pressure declined in the IET group only (−4.7 mmHg; P < 0.05). There were no significant differences between groups for SBP or diastolic blood pressure (P > 0.05). At 6 weeks posttraining, SBP was still 9.4 mmHg below baseline in the IET group only. A unique finding was that the clinically significant RBP reductions persisted for 6 weeks after IET.
Handgrip IET may be an effective antihypertensive intervention, which persists for several weeks in older adults, even when training ceases.