Prescription for Post-Exercise Hypotension

Principal Investigator:  Linda Pescatello, PhD, FACSM, FAHA

Brief Overview

To increase the effectiveness of the prescription of exercise for the prevention, treatment, and control of hypertension.  Daily moderate-intensity, short-duration aerobic exercise can provide immediate health benefits for patients with high blood pressure.


Adults in the early stages of hypertension

Core Components of Intervention

  • Mode of Delivery and Duration:  A single bout of aerobic exercise performed at moderate intensity equivalent in physical exertion to a brisk walk for 30 minutes either done continuously or accumulated in three 10-minute bouts throughout the day, done on most days of the week.
  • Setting:  Hospitals, workplaces, universities, fitness facilities, and homes or any setting suitable for doing aerobic activities such as walking and cycling
  • Setting:  University medical center
  • Theoretical Basis:  A session of aerobic exercise immediately lowers blood pressure for the remainder of the day compared to non-exercise days.  This phenomenon is termed post-exercise hypotension.
  • Materials Available:  A pair of walking or running shoes or a bicycle is all that is needed.


Efficacy studies  (Eicher, Maresh, Tsongalis, Thompson, & Pescatello, 2010; Guidry et al., 2006; Pescatello, Falkenham, Leach, & Scherzer, 1991; Thompson et al., 2004) included participants in the early stages of hypertension (i.e., pre-hypertension to Stage 1 hypertension).  In the initial study, there were a total of 50 subjects, a majority of which were non-Hispanic white, sedentary, overweight to obese men.  Participants took part in acute endurance exercise studies that also included a control sham session of seated rest.  Participants who received this intervention experienced reductions in systolic blood pressure  and diastolic blood pressure on the days they exercised compared to the days they did not exercise.  Aerobic exercise induces immediate health benefits, particularly lower blood pressure among individuals with high blood pressure.   This intervention can be another lifestyle therapy used in the prevention, treatment, and control of hypertension.

Implementation History

Post-exercise hypotension immediately lowers blood pressure and is associated with other heart health benefits among those with hypertension.  Individuals with hypertension can see immediate results if they follow this acute model of exercise prescription (Pescatello, 2005; Pescatello, Franklin, Fagard, Farquhar, Kelly, & Ray, 2004).  This intervention can be individually tailored and is elicited by moderate-intensity, short-duration aerobic exercise performed on most days of the week.

Contact Info

Linda S. Pescatello, PhD, FACSM, FAHA
Professor, Department of Kinesiology &
Human Performance Laboratory
Neag School of Education
University of Connecticut
Gampel Pavilion Room 206
2095 Hillside Road, U-1110
Storrs, CT 06269-1110
Tel: (860) 486-0008