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blood pressure, hypertension, isometric exercise



  1. Millar, Philip J. MSc
  2. Bray, Steven R. PhD
  3. MacDonald, Maureen J. PhD
  4. McCartney, Neil PhD


PURPOSE: Research has demonstrated the efficacy of isometric handgrip (IHG) training to attenuate resting blood pressure. These studies have relied on the use of programmable digital handgrips for training. This study aimed to determine the effectiveness of simple, inexpensive spring-loaded handgrip devices in producing hypotensive effects.


METHODS: The study was a randomized controlled trial of 49 normotensive participants (66.4 +/- 0.9 years; 57% women). Participants in the exercise group (n = 25) trained and had blood pressure measured twice weekly for 8 weeks. Control participants (n = 24) completed weekly blood pressure measurements. Pre- and posttraining measurements were each assessed over 3 visits. Statistical analysis of the pre-post data involved analyses of variance and hierarchical linear modeling was used to examine changes over time.


RESULTS: Following 8 weeks, IHG participants demonstrated significant reductions in resting blood pressure. Systolic and diastolic blood pressures were reduced from 122 +/- 3 mm Hg to 112 +/- 3 mm Hg (P < .001) and from 70 +/- 1 mm Hg to 67 +/- 1 mm Hg (P < .05), respectively. Hierarchical linear modeling analysis also revealed a significant cross-level (ie, group / time) interaction, with an estimated reduction in systolic blood pressure of 5.4 mm Hg (P < .001) over the training period in the IHG group.


CONCLUSIONS: In agreement with previous studies, IHG training reduced resting arterial pressure following 8 weeks of training. Hypotensive effects linked to IHG training may be achieved using simple, inexpensive spring handgrip training devices and may provide a convenient and affordable therapeutic alternative or adjunctive therapy for lowering blood pressure.