You’ve probably heard that exercise is one of the best things you can do to maintain good cardiovascular health, including blood pressure.
But if you measure your blood pressure (BP) immediately after exercise, you may find that it’s higher than normal.
That’s because exercise temporarily increases blood pressure. But it should return to normal within a reasonably short period after you stop.1 In fact, the time it takes to return to normal reflects how healthy you are.1
Well, it’s the job of your heart to deliver oxygen (and other nutrients) to all your body tissues via the bloodstream.2
During exercise, your muscles need more oxygen. It’s used to convert glucose into fuel for your muscles.2 Therefore, your heart rate increases as the heart pumps harder and faster.1
That’s when the systolic blood pressure rises.
Systolic blood pressure is the ‘top’ number in your BP reading and refers to the pressure in your blood vessels when your heart beats. The diastolic pressure, or bottom number of your reading is the pressure in your blood vessels between heartbeats. It shouldn’t change too much during exercise, but if it does it may signify an underlying issue, so best get it checked out with your doctor.1
(If you’d like to learn more about what the blood pressure numbers mean, check out this article about which blood pressure number is more important.)
Your ‘normal’ blood pressure should return within two hours of stopping exercise, but in most cases, it takes around 20 minutes.3 And the more exercise you do and the fitter you become, the less time it will take.1,4
In fact, a study of exercise-induced changes in blood pressure in trained versus untrained athletes found that trained athletes had a much smaller change in systolic blood pressure than the untrained study participants, and a much faster recovery to normal levels.4
A home blood pressure monitor is an affordable way to keep a check on your blood pressure before and after exercise. It will not only allow you to track your blood pressure trends to talk to your doctor about, such as when BP doesn’t return to normal quickly enough, or your diastolic (bottom number) increases after exercise, but will also allow you to track how much fitter you’re getting. Check out the range of Omron and Heart Sure Blood Pressure monitors here.
Always read the label and follow the directions for use. For people with high blood pressure. Consult your doctor to evaluate the readings. Check your device periodically for accuracy.