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why does blood pressure increase with exercise

Exercise and physical activity in general is good for your health. Over time, a regimen of cardiovascular workouts helps you maintain healthy blood pressure levels. Because of the nature of exertion, though, your blood pressure increases somewhat during exercise, depending on the intensity of your workout and your overall health. Your circulatory system maintains pressure in your arteries and your heart pumps against it. Blood pressure numbers reflect your arterial pressure when your heart pushes blood through your system, and also when your heart rests between beats. The "active" pressure is the top number on your blood pressure reading. It is the "systolic" pressure. The "passive," or "resting," pressure is the bottom number, and represents the "diastolic" pressure. Healthy blood pressure numbers are 120 systolic over 80 diastolic, or slightly lower. Blood pressure changes throughout your day, depending on your position, your anxiety level, and your activity level. Chronic high blood pressure increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke, but temporary increases in blood pressure allow you to meet the demands you put on your body when you exercise. Without adequate pressure, your blood delivery system fails. When you engage in aerobic exercise, your muscles work and need nourishment. You breathe harder to supply oxygen to the bloodstream, and your heart pumps faster to deliver the needed supplies. More blood pumps through your system and your blood pressure increases. According to БPrimary Care Medicine," your resting blood pressure is lower than average if you are physically fit and it goes up less than average during exertion. The increase in your systolic blood pressure is temporary, and usually not injurious.


Diastolic blood pressure stays steady, due to dilatation of the blood vessels during exercise, according to Len Kravitz, PhD, in his article БExercise and Resting Blood Pressure. Б When you hold your breath during aerobic exercise, your blood pressure might spike higher than at other times during exercise. Weight lifting puts demands on your muscles, heart and lungs, and it causes blood pressure to rise during exertion. Blood pressure spikes higher when you lift more weight and hold your breath. Proper technique and continuous breathing helps avoid sudden spikes in pressure. Lifting less weight at one time and instead doing more repetitions also avoids problems associated with higher blood pressure. Exercise is good for your heart and overall health, but extreme exertion combined with improper or inadequate breathing is dangerous. In a U. S. Masters swimming article on the subject, ASCA Level IV Coach and Masters swimmer Dr. Paul Hutinger details his hemorrhagic stroke, which occurred after he performed an intense "no-breather" sprint set. Existing high blood pressure combined with high-intensity workouts while holding your breath leads to problems, according to Hutinger, so discuss proper medications and behavior modifications with your doctor to avoid possible complications.
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

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