Effect of Exercise on Blood Pressure

blood pressure and exercise

If you have high blood pressure, many doctors and patients believe that you should not do strength training due to a negative effect of exercise on blood pressure. This is not so, according to the researchers from the Catholic University of Brasilia. Their publication in the journal Strength and Conditioning Research says that strength training actually has a positive effect on people with high blood pressure.

High blood pressure and exercise

Exercise can help prevent high blood pressure, and people who already have high blood pressure can reduce it a bit by doing more exercise. For example, endurance exercises – 40 minutes of cycling with an intensity of 60 percent VO2max – help lower blood pressure.

There is less information about the effect of exercise on blood pressure with weights, although it is known that during sets with heavyweights, blood pressure can soar. For people with vulnerable blood vessels, the temporary peak in blood pressure may be too large. However, there are studies that show that good breathing techniques and the use of medications to lower blood pressure, such as propranolol, can help smooth out this peak.

Is it possible to train with high blood pressure: research

To answer this question, the researchers asked 32 women aged 60 to 75 years, all of whom had high blood pressure, to do strength training three times a week for four months. Each session, the participants trained the main muscle groups, performing ten simple basic exercises: vertical traction, leg extension, chest presses, hip abduction, leg bending, leg presses, and lifting on toes. Women performed three sets of each exercise. They started with 60 percent of the weight, from a one-shot maximum, and gradually increased it to 80 percent. The control group did not train at all.

blood pressure on exercise

Blood pressure lowers after training: this is normal!

We also know that blood pressure slightly decreases in people with normal and high blood pressure in the first hour after strength training.

Citrulline malate also has antihypertensive effects (associated with lowering blood pressure) in hypertensive patients. It was found that taking 6 grams of citrulline malate before training leads to a more pronounced decrease in systolic and diastolic blood pressure within 24 hours after exercise compared with placebo.

The researchers wanted to know what the effect of exercise on blood pressure would be on women with high blood pressure who regularly take blood-lowering medications. Will strength training have a positive effect? Or would women be better off doing moderately intense forms of exercise?

The after-effect of exercise on blood pressure: research results

When women did not take drugs against high blood pressure, their systolic pressure (pressure during a heart rhythm) was higher than 140 mm Hg, and their diastolic pressure (pressure between two heart rhythms) was above 90 mm Hg. From the table below it can be seen that systolic blood pressure at rest in the experimental group decreased by 14.3 mm Hg. This was a statistically significant effect. The second table shows that the resting diastolic blood pressure decreased by 3.6 mmHg. The effect was not entirely significant.

blood pressure for exercise
Table 1
exercise lowers blood pressure
Table 2

Thus, women with high blood pressure, which is under control, can engage in strength training, the researchers conclude. They must be sure that they gradually increase the weight with which they work. Well-thought-out strength training can help keep blood pressure in check and can even help lower it. “The chronic decrease in resting arterial pressure observed in this study can be translated as a significant protective effect on the cardiovascular system of participants,” Brazilian scientists concluded.

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