Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

P. M. van Wyk

Second Advisor

C. McGowan


Cardiac Rehab, Handgrip, Isometric, Stress Ball




The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified hypertension (HTN) as a global epidemic, and in accordance, has emphasized the need for cost effective, widely available alternative methods to lower blood pressure (BP) levels in all populations worldwide. Exercise, namely aerobic with dynamic resistance exercise as an adjunct, is a cornerstone method of reducing HTN. Recently, isometric handgrip (IHG) training, has become a formal recommendation of the American College of Cardiology (ACC), and the American Heart Association (AHA) in their recent guidelines. However, traditional IHG participation requires the use of a computerized dynamometer, which costs upwards of approximately $600 CAD, making the investigation of more cost-effective devices with a high probability for uptake warranted. However, prior to establishing the BP-lowering effectiveness of these devices, the acute stimuli need to be quantified. Therefore, the purpose of this thesis was to compare the heart rate (HR), BP, and rates of perceived exertion (RPE) to a bout of IHG performed using traditional computerized device and a more affordable inflatable stress ball (approximately $4 CAD) among 20 healthy adults with normal BP (average age of 24.70 ± 5.13 years; average resting BP 107.93 ± 16.14/58.68 ± 6.77; average HR 66.01 ± 8.61; 10 women). No statistically significant differences between these two devices were observed with respect to HR, BP, and RPE (all p > 0.05). The similar cardiovascular and psychophysical responses between devices provide support for the potential use of the inflatable stress ball as an effective IHG device, and thus, lay the foundation for a future training study.