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Activity for Low Blood Pressure

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September 21, 2020
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Activity for Low Blood Pressure
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Blood pressure changes constantly. Although someone with hypertension has high blood pressure in general, blood pressure can sometimes get too low. This is called hypotension. Blood pressure that is consistently lower than 120/80 mmHg means it is under control, but signs such as light-headedness can mean that blood pressure has dropped too low.

When to Seek Medical Attention

A single bout of low blood pressure that causes lightheadedness is not necessarily cause for alarm, but it is important to contact your healthcare provider if these symptoms continue.  Sometimes low blood pressure can be a sign of an underlying heart condition that your physician would want to address. Other times, it can be a sign that your blood pressure medication may need to be adjusted to keep your blood pressure more stable. 

Can Exercise Help with Low Blood Pressure?

Blood pressure increases while exercising, but after you stop, it decreases to a point lower than it was before starting your physical activity. This is because exercise leads to blood vessels dilating to lower blood pressure. Reduced blood pressure lasts for up to 24 hours, which is why experts encourage doing daily exercise to manage high blood pressure. 

Sometimes when blood pressure is low, being physically active can help improve your pressure. For instance if you feel light headedness, pedalng your feet or doing some marching can bring your pressure up and  help resolve your symptoms. A good example of this is after feeling light headed when seeing a needle or blood draw; taking deep breaths and pedaling the feet can resolve symptoms (as can looking away from the needle!).

Dynamic movements that incorporate large muscle groups repeatedly, such as walking, jogging, cycling and rowing, can be beneficial for helping blood flow back to the heart and increasing blood volume. This in turn increases blood pressure during the activity. 

In addition, resistance training can help with the skeletal muscle pump. The skeletal muscle pump is a mechanism in which flexing the muscle actually helps to press on blood vessels in the flexing limb, which presses blood back to the heart. 

Something to avoid if blood pressure is on the low side is anything with rapid position changes - so yes, you are excused from doing burpees!

Final Tips on Activity for Low Blood Pressure

  • The blood pressure increase we see with exercise is our body's way to ensure the working muscles get the oxygen and blood flow that they need for activity. Be sure that though your blood pressure is expected to increase with exercise, that it does not increase beyond the measures of 220/110 mm Hg. 
  • If your blood pressure is on the low end before exercising, be sure to check your blood pressure following exercise as well. Drink plenty of water to help keep the blood volume up.
  • Enjoy some active time knowing it does your body, and your blood pressure, good!

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