Blood Pressure After Exercise

The blood circulating in the body exerts a pressure on the blood vessels and is referred to as blood pressure (BP). It has two values – systolic and diastolic. Systolic pressure is the one which is exerted when the blood is forced out of the heart by its pumping action and the diastolic is the pressure between two heart beats.

It is important to pay attention to the blood pressure because high blood pressure can have health implications. However, the blood pressure after exercise is often high. Let us find out if that is normal or not.

Blood Pressure

Normal Levels

The recommended optimal normal blood pressure for healthy adults is 120 systolic and 80 diastolic. Blood pressure tends to rise in the evening and fall slightly after vigorous exercise; these readings typically are 130/85 and 110/70. Athletes training regularly usually are in the 110/70 range. Any reading over 140/90 is considered high and a reading under 90/60 low; either extreme may require medical treatment. Blood pressure normally is taken at rest, with the person seated and not doing any physical activity. This is the basis for comparison after exercise.

Exercise Variations

Blood pressure changes vary with the type of exercise. Aerobic exercise, such as running, swimming or bicycling, increases the heart rate and generally increases the pressure with which blood is pumped, thus raising the systolic number. The diastolic pressure normally remains stable. This is the preferred exercise for the heart. Static or isometric exercise, such as weightlifting, requires sustained muscle contraction with little or no increase in cardiac output; the result is a rise in both blood pressures. Isometrics have shown some beneficial long-term lowering of pressures, however.

Drop After Exercise

It is normal for blood pressure to fall slightly below resting levels after vigorous exercise, then return to normal after rest. Heart rates should return to normal in about two minutes, but blood pressure returns are slower, often by several hours. Consistent aerobic exercise, however, has been shown to reduce resting blood pressure readings over time. The American Heart Association recommends at least 30 minutes of exercise three or four times a week to help control blood pressure. A cool down period after exercise allows heart rate and breathing to resume normal levels gradually and can help to prevent dizziness.

Danger Signs

One study on older obese men showed blood pressures to be significantly lowered for 24 hours after aerobic exercise. Any decrease in blood pressure during exercise is a sign of potential heart problems and should be diagnosed by a physician. Any dramatic fall in blood pressure after exercise, without a return to close to normal levels within half an hour or so, also may signal potential heart problems. A person with blood pressure consistently below 90/60 should be referred to a physician.