When you exercise, your heart rate increases and forces blood through your arteries with more pressure, which helps deliver more oxygenated blood and nutrients to your cells and muscular tissues.
Once you’ve completed your workout and your heart rate begins to return to its resting state, your blood pressure should also drop back down.
Although high blood pressure is generally regarded as a dangerous condition, a daily habit of heart-pumping exercise can actually help to lower your blood pressure over time.
What is Blood Pressure?
Blood pressure measures the force that your blood exerts against the walls of your blood vessels.
It’s composed of two numbers:
● Systolic blood pressure – the pressure in your arteries when your heart contracts and pumps blood through your body.
● Diastolic blood pressure – the pressure in your arteries when your heart is resting between beats.
A blood pressure reading of 120/80 mm Hg is considered to be a healthy resting blood pressure. Exercise can cause systolic blood pressure (the first number) to rise up to between 160–200 mm Hg in a healthy person.
Why Does it Matter?
Although hypertension (the medical term for high blood pressure) doesn’t always come with any obvious symptoms, it is a life-threatening condition that should not be ignored or underestimated.
If your blood pressure at rest is higher than normal, your risk for developing cardiovascular disease, stroke, and other health problems increases. The strong pulses of blood moving through your arteries can damage the sensitive organ tissues they nourish.
High blood pressure is often referred to as “the silent killer” because it often has no symptoms, yet it can cause severe and life-threatening damage to your body if left untreated.
How Does Exercise Help?
Exercise is one of the most effective ways to lower your blood pressure.
Even just one single workout session provides clinically significant cardioprotective (heart-healthy) benefits.
And when you continue exercising multiple times a week, these benefits continue to stack on top of each other, providing an even greater protective effect.
Health guidelines recommend at least 150 minutes of heart-rate-elevating physical activity every week. Those 150 minutes can generally be divided up in whatever way you prefer.
For example, 30 minutes on five separate days, or 50 minutes every other day. You can also do multiple mini-workout sessions (5-10 minutes each) in a single day if that suits your schedule.
Any kind of physical activity is helpful. So whether you prefer to run, lift weights, play a sport, or just take a brisk walk, any of these activities can help lower your blood pressure.
If you have already been diagnosed with hypertension, talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program. They can help you create a safe and effective workout plan that meets your individual needs and health goals.