why does blood pressure go up during exercise

Blood pressure is typically measured when the body is at rest, so it can be surprising to learn how much this common vital sign changes with physical activity. In fact, exercise causes an immediate increase in blood pressure -- particularly in the systolic, or top blood pressure number. How much your blood pressure changes during exercise correlates with your fitness level and health status, as well as the type and intensity of exercise, and these changes may provide important clues to your health. Blood pressure measurements consist of two numbers. The first figure, the systolic, represents the pressure when your heart is contracting, and the second, or diastolic number, is a measure of the pressure in between beats -- when the heart is relaxed. are below 120 systolic, and below 80 diastolic, or less than 120/80 mm Hg. According to the, the earliest stage of hypertension, or high blood pressure, is diagnosed when readings increase to 130/80 or above. Blood pressure is greatly influenced by cardiac output, or how much blood your heart pumps per minute, and peripheral resistance, which is the resistance of arteries to blood flow. These factors help to explain why blood pressure varies person to person, and why it changes with exercise. How much your blood pressure increases with exercise your usual resting blood pressure levels, and your work rate, or the type, intensity and duration of physical activity. During exercise, your heart rate -- and systolic pressure -- go up, because cardiac output increases to pump more blood and oxygen to working muscles.


In people without hypertension, most types of exercise can push systolic blood pressure to the
and intense exercise such as weight lifting can temporarily push systolic pressure to even higher levels. Exercise also causes vasodilation, or the widening of blood vessels, which increases blood flow and decreases peripheral resistance -- which, in healthy people, keeps the diastolic blood pressure from rising during activity. In people with hypertension, a greater than expected increase in systolic and diastolic pressure can occur with exercise. Specifically, are considered exercise hypertension and should be evaluated, as this exaggerated blood pressure response is commonly a result of -- and associated with a future risk of In people with, abnormally low systolic and diastolic blood pressure may occur during exercise, and this also requires prompt evaluation. Anyone with hypertension or heart disease should seek and follow their doctor's advice in order to safely incorporate exercise into their lifestyle. Right after exercise is stopped, blood pressure decreases -- often to levels a bit lower than normal resting blood pressure, and can last for hours. Also, people who exercise regularly usually experience permanent improvements in resting blood pressure levels, as exercise strengthens the heart, helps with weight loss, improves circulation and lessens peripheral resistance -- all factors that benefit blood pressure.


An increase in blood pressure during exercise, particularly the systolic reading, is normal and expected, with levels that return to the usual resting range after recovery from exercise. However, some people experience abnormally low or high blood pressure during exercise, and this requires medical assessment. If you have hypertension that is not controlled, do not start an exercise program until your doctor approves that exercise is safe for you. If exercise causes severe shortness of breath, weakness, or dizziness, or causes any chest pain, even if this pain goes away when you stop, let your doctor know right away. Stop exercising and seek immediate medical attention or if you have chest pain, severe shortness of breath or pain in other areas, such as your arm, jaw or neck. Reviewed by Kay Peck, MPH RD According to statistics published by the American Heart Association (AHA), roughly 74 million people in the United States over the age of 20 have hypertension, a health condition responsible for approximately 60,000 deaths per year. As startling as these statistics are, moderate physical activity performed for 30 to 40 minutes on most days of the week can potentially lower resting blood pressure rates and prevent hypertension. Normal resting blood pressure is less than 120/80 mmHg. The first number, 120, represents the systolic pressure, or pressure against the artery walls when the heart contracts.


The lower number, 80, is the diastolic pressure, or pressure against the artery walls between heart beats. During exercise, the systolic pressure increases progressively as the cardiovascular system attempts to deliver more oxygen to the working muscles. The diastolic pressure (the lower number) should stay about the same, or decrease slightly, thanks to the dilated blood vessels in the working muscles that help heat escape. Pre-hypertension is defined as having a diastolic reading between 120 and 139 mmHg and systolic reading between 80 and 89 mmHg. Stage 1 hypertension is a blood pressure reading of 140 to 159/90 to 99 mmHg. If you have Бhigh normalБ or Stage 1 hypertension, you can expect a 6 to 10 mmHg drop in both resting systolic and diastolic blood pressure rates with continued, moderate cardiovascular exercise. Resistance exercise also helps decrease resting blood pressure rates in individuals with high normal and Stage 1 hypertension. Though this may seem like a small reduction, studies indicate that even a slight drop in blood pressure can help reduce the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. Experts recommend two to five strength training sessions per week, for 20 to 60 minutes per session. Each session should include five to 50 repetitions of six to 14 different exercises, with 15 seconds to two-minute rest periods between sets.

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