Aquatic exercise may offer antihypertensive benefits to older women
Aquatic exercise appears to promote postexercise hypotension in older women, inducing blood pressure (BP) reductions that are similar in magnitude to land aerobic exercise, a study has found.
The crossover study randomized 24 women (mean age 70 years), with a mean resting systolic (S)/diastolic (D)BP of 124.0/72.3 mmHg and body mass index (BMI) of 29.8 kg/m2, to participate in either a 45-minute session of moderate intensity, water-based exercise or land control session of similar duration.
All experimental interventions began in the morning, at 9 o’clock, with the participants wearing an ambulatory BP monitor for the next 21 hours after the exercises.
Compared with the control intervention, water-based exercise significantly reduced SBP by 5.1 mmHg over 21 hours (p<0.001), by 5.7 mmHg over awake hours (p<0.001) and by 4.5 mmHg over sleep hours (p=0.004).
Reductions in DBP were similarly greater after a water-based exercise vs control: 1.2 mmHg over 21 hours (p=0.043), 0.9 mmHg over awake hours (p=0.101) and 1.4 mmHg over sleep hours (p=0.039).
Researchers noted that the immediate antihypertensive benefits of acute aquatic exercise should be further explored in future studies.
Physical activity is considered a nonpharmacological strategy in the management of hypertension, as it exerts favourable effects on the cardiovascular system. Currently, most guidelines recommend aerobic exercise for hypertension control. [Med Sci Sports Exerc 2004;36:533-53; J Sports Med Phys Fitness 2004;44:54-62; Arq Bras Cardiol 2010;95:S1-51]
Meanwhile, water-based exercise has emerged as a popular aerobic activity, offering numerous benefits including reduced contact force and stress on weight-bearing joints, bones and muscles. Believed to be particularly useful for individuals with lower extremity injuries, water-based exercises have been adopted in rehabilitative, therapeutic and general conditioning programmes. [Int J Gen Med 2011;4:549–554]