If you are diagnosed with high blood pressure, your health care provider may prescribe medications to control it, along with a regular exercise program. According to The American College of Sports Medicine, regular exercise generally lowers both your systolic pressure and diastolic pressure by about 10mmHg. However, depending on how you are exercising, your systolic pressure and diastolic pressure are affected differently. Consult with your health care provider before you begin any exercise program.
About Blood Pressure
As blood flows through your circulatory system, it produces pressure on the artery walls. When you get your pressure checked, you receive two pressure readings in millimeters of mercury, or mmHg. The top number is your systolic pressure, which is the pressure on your arteries as your heart beats. The second number is your diastolic reading, which is the pressure on the system as your heart rests between beats. Any type of regular physical activity strengthens the heart, and helps control your blood pressure. It is important to be consistent with your activity, as the positive affects on your blood pressure diminish when you stop being active.
Effects of Aerobic Exercise
Aerobic exercise is the most effective form of exercise for controlling your blood pressure. Aerobic activity elevates your heart rate to a targeted range for an extended period of time. During aerobic exercise, your systolic pressure can increase to over 200mmHg. However, your diastolic pressure should remain relatively unchanged, regardless of your exercise intensity. An increase in your diastolic pressure of more than 15mmHg during aerobic exercise could be a symptom of heart disease.
Resistance Training Cautions
Regular resistance training can have a positive long-term effect on controlling your blood pressure. However, while you are lifting weights, both your systolic pressure and your diastolic pressure can increase. This increase in blood pressure can be especially high if you hold your breath while lifting heavy weights. To avoid spikes in your blood pressure, lift lighter weights and perform more repetitions.
Keeping Track & Staying Safe
Monitor your blood pressure frequently to determine the effectiveness of your exercise program. This can be accomplished through visits with your health care provider, or with a home blood pressure test kit. If you experience excessive fatigue, dizziness, or chest and shoulder pain while exercising, stop immediately and seek medical attention.
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