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Sex differences in resting hemodynamics and arterial stiffness following 4 weeks of resistance versus aerobic exercise training in individuals with pre-hypertension to stage 1 hypertension

Scott R Collier1*, Vincent Frechette2, Kathryn Sandberg4, Patrick Schafer1, Hong Ji4, Harold Smulyan2 and Bo Fernhall3

Author Affiliations

1 Vascular Biology and Autonomic Studies Laboratory, Appalachian State University, 111 Rivers Street, Boone, NC 28608, USA

2 Department of Medicine, SUNY Upstate Medical University 750 East Adams Street, Syracuse, NY 13210, USA

3 Department of Kinesiology and Community Health, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 906 South Goodwin Ave, Urbana IL 61801, USA

4 Center for the Study of Sex Differences in Health, Aging and Disease, Georgetown University, 4000 Reservoir Road, NW, Washington, DC 20057, USA

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Biology of Sex Differences 2011, 2:9  doi:10.1186/2042-6410-2-9

Published: 25 August 2011



Hypertension (HTN) exhibits sexual dimorphism; the incidence for women surpasses men during the sixth decade of life, while the pharmacological treatments are less effective and produce more side-effects in women than in men. Aerobic exercise (AE) has been shown to prevent and treat HTN; however, resistance exercise (RE) is not recommended as a strategy to treat HTN. In this study, we investigated the potential sex differences of AE versus RE in a cohort of unmedicated patients with hypertension.


In total, 40 moderately active, pre-hypertensive or stage 1 essential hypertensive male (M) and female (F) participants aged 40 to 60 years were randomly divided into four groups: M AE, M RE, F AE, and F. Each group exercised at moderate intensity, 3 days/week for 4 weeks. Hemodynamic, vascular and blood-flow data were collected before and after exercise training.


Men showed a significant increase in central pulse wave velocity following RE while females showed no significant changes (12 ± to 13.9 ± vs. 9.2 ± to 9.6 ± m/s, respectively). RE showed significantly greater increases in peak blood flow when compared to AE (F RE 15 ± to 20 ± vs. F AE 17.5 ± to19.5 ±, M RE 19 ± to 24 ± vs M AE 21 ± to 25 ± ml* 100 ml*min, respectively). In addition, systolic and diastolic BP decreased greater for women following RE when compared to AE whereas men showed comparable decreases in BP following either exercise mode.


Moderate-intensity RE training may be a more favorable for women as a treatment option for hypertension because of greater decreases in diastolic BP and significant increases in flow-mediated dilation without concomitant increases in arterial stiffness, compared with their male counterparts.