Strength training reduces arterial blood pressure but not sympathetic neural activity in young normotensive subjects

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The effects of resistance training on arterial blood pressure and muscle sympathetic nerve activity (MSNA) at rest have not been established. Although endurance training is commonly recommended to lower arterial blood pressure, it is not known whether similar adaptations occur with resistance training. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that whole body resistance training reduces arterial blood pressure at rest, with concomitant reductions in MSNA. Twelve young [21 ± 0.3 (SE) yr] subjects underwent a program of whole body resistance training 3 days/wk for 8 wk. Resting arterial blood pressure (n = 12; automated sphygmomanometer) and MSNA (n = 8; peroneal nerve microneurography) were measured during a 5-min period of supine rest before and after exercise training. Thirteen additional young (21 ± 0.8 yr) subjects served as controls. Resistance training significantly increased one-repetition maximum values in all trained muscle groups (P < 0.001), and it significantly decreased systolic (130 ± 3 to 121 ± 2 mmHg;P = 0.01), diastolic (69 ± 3 to 61 ± 2 mmHg; P = 0.04), and mean (89 ± 2 to 81 ± 2 mmHg; P = 0.01) arterial blood pressures at rest. Resistance training did not affect MSNA or heart rate. Arterial blood pressures and MSNA were unchanged, but heart rate increased after 8 wk of relative inactivity for subjects in the control group (61 ± 2 to 67 ± 3 beats/min; P = 0.01). These results indicate that whole body resistance exercise training might decrease the risk for development of cardiovascular disease by lowering arterial blood pressure but that reductions of pressure are not coupled to resistance exercise-induced decreases of sympathetic tone.

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© 2003 the American Physiological Society. Publisher's version of record: https://doi.org/10.1152/japplphysiol.01109.2002

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Journal of Applied Physiology