ESSA Position Stand Update: Exercise and Hypertension

ESSA Position Stand Update: Exercise and Hypertension

ESSA Position Stand Update: Exercise and Hypertension

Hypertension is the most common circulatory system condition, accounting for >40% of the cardiovascular disease total burden. One third of Australians aged over 18 years have hypertension and in 68% of these it is uncontrolled. Australian data shows hypertension accounts for 6% of general practitioner (GP) consults. Recent evidence has confirmed exercise is an effective adjunct therapy for hypertension management and the objective of this document is to provide a contemporary, evidence-based guide for optimal delivery of an exercise program for blood pressure management.

This work is an update to the 2009 Exercise and Sport Science Australia (ESSA) position stand.

In most cases, the first line treatment to reduce BP is initiation of lifestyle changes, of which regular aerobic exercise is a principal component.  Aerobic and resistance activities remain the cornerstone of exercise-based management of blood pressure, but recent work has uncovered variations on traditional delivery of exercise, such as high intensity interval training (HIIT) and a new exercise modality, isometric resistance training (IRT) may offer alternative management regimens.

In conclusion, Exercise Physiologists, as well as other health care professionals, play an important role in helping to achieve BP control in patients with hypertension by reinforcing healthy lifestyle habits and prescribing appropriate exercise.

This is a recording of an ESSA webinar presented on 25 November 2019. 

Presented by Prof Neil Smart, PhD, MMedSci, BSci(Hons), ESSAF

Neil has been an exercise physiologist for more than 25 years and has practised in primary and tertiary care centres in the UK, SE Asia and Australia. In his early career Neil gained invaluable experience in exercise testing and prescription, for cardiac patients. Neil has since become an internationally recognised leader in exercise epidemiology and healthy aging, publishing more than 130 peer-reviewed journal manuscripts. Neil’s career research ‘theme’ has been to understand the optimal exercise program prescription for a range of chronic illnesses commonly encountered by accredited exercise physiologists in clinical practice. Neil has systematically synthesized the published literature, with periodic updates, to evaluate the evidence for optimizing exercise prescriptions for a range of chronic diseases, most notably heart and renal failure, diabetes and related metabolic derangements.

Neil has clinical trial experience and expertise conducting meta-analyses of lifestyle and pharmacological treatments for managing chronic illnesses. Neil has recently focussed on the benefits of isometric exercise to manage hypertension.  In 2017 the American Heart Association’s guideline paper on hypertension, recognized isometric exercise as a vital treatment strategy, this announcement was in part due to Neil’s contributions to this field.

Since 2001 Neil has been accredited by ESSA, Exercise and Sport Science Australia, as an exercise physiologist. In recognition of his work as Chair of ESSA’s Cardiovascular Special Interest Group and Research Committees, as well as contributions to the National University Accredited Degree Program curricula, Neil was awarded an ESSA Fellowship in 2016. Neil remains chair of ESSA’s national research publications committee.

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Any Accredited Exercise Scientist, Accredited Exercise Physiologist


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