What Is Blood Pressure?
When blood flows through your arteries, the force that it exerts against the wall of the arteries is measured as blood pressure. It can also be understood as the resistance offered by the blood vessels to the flow of blood. Blood pressure also takes into account the amount of blood that flows through your vessels. It is calculated by multiplying cardiac output and total peripheral resistance, which is the resistance provided by the walls of blood vessels.
Blood pressure can fluctuate in response to changes in diet, physical activity, body size, health, and diseases that affect the blood vessels.
During exercise or high-stress situations, the heart rate increases, which leads to an increase in cardiac output. This leads to a rise in blood pressure.
Blood Pressure and Exercise
After a workout, your blood pressure normally rises due to an increase in physical activity and heart rate. It should return to its resting level in some time. The sooner it returns to its resting level, the more healthy you are.
When you exercise, your muscles need more oxygen, and hence, the demand for blood increases. To supply more blood to the muscles, the heart has to beat faster and pump a large volume of blood into the vessels. This large volume of blood being pumped increases the blood pressure.
Exercise increases your systolic blood pressure levels. This is a measure of blood pressure when your heart is beating. Diastolic reading is a measure of blood pressure when your heart is at rest in between heartbeats. This is not greatly affected by exercise.
During cycling, working out, swimming, or running, your muscles need more oxygen, and this increases the demand on the heart. Your heart starts pumping faster and harder, and this leads to an increase in systolic pressure.
The blood pressure readings after exercise vary from person to person.
After exercise, your systolic pressure can increase to a value between 160 mmHg and 220 mmHg. Beyond this is a cause for concern, and you need to talk to your doctor. It might be exercise hypertension, which is an extreme spike in blood pressure due to exercise.
Heavy resistance training that includes weight lifting can cause a greater increase in blood pressure compared to aerobic training. This is because of the increase in intra-abdominal pressure and compressive forces exerted by the equipment.
High blood pressure on exercising is usually a rise in pressure more than 140/90 mmHg after two hours of rest. Low blood pressure readings are anything below 90/60 mmHg after two hours of rest on exercising.
Exercise can also be an effective way of lowering blood pressure in hypertensive people. With age, you tend to get blood pressure related problems, but these can be controlled with the right medication and exercise. As you keep exercising, your heart works harder and becomes stronger. Your heart can pump more blood without exerting extra force on your arteries and this can bring your blood pressure levels back to normal. People with hypertension are not usually recommended to do heavy resistance training as this may lead to high spikes in blood pressure. Talk to your doctor about your exercise plan if you’re hypertensive.
How Does Genetics Influence Blood Pressure Response to Exercise?
The GNAS gene encodes a protein part of the G protein complex. G protein complexes are involved in many cell signaling pathways. It is involved in the changes of calcium and potassium ion concentrations within cells. These changes are important in regulating cardiac output and peripheral vascular resistance, which is used to calculate blood pressure. Variants of this gene are studied in relation to hypertension.
rs62205366 is an SNP in the GNAS gene. According to a study conducted, men with the T allele and a family history of hypertension had lower blood pressure after performing low-intensity aerobic exercise compared to those with the CC genotype.
Non-genetic Factors That Affect Blood Pressure Response to Exercise
Physical activity and fitness: Exercising consistently and remaining fit helps your blood pressure drop back to its resting state after exercise. This is because as you exercise, you strengthen your cardiovascular system.
Heart rate: Blood pressure recovery is faster in people with lower resting heart rates. Lower resting heart rate is also associated with good health and a lesser risk of cardiovascular disease mortality.
Smoking: Smoking increases blood pressure and heart rate. It is also found to increase blood pressure recovery times after exercise.
Age: In older people, blood pressure spikes after exercise take a longer time to decrease than in younger people.
Obesity: Obesity is linked to a risk of cardiovascular diseases. People who are overweight or obese tend to take longer to recover from blood pressure spikes after exercise.
What Can You Do To Manage Blood Pressure?
An overall fitness plan targeted to your body type is an effective way to control blood pressure. Aerobic exercises are very effective at controlling high blood pressure. Aerobic exercises increase your heart and breathing rate gradually, and this makes your heart stronger, in the long run, reducing blood pressure. Aerobic exercises include running or jogging, jump rope, and exercising on the elliptical machine.
Increase the intensity of exercise gradually. If you feel any trouble like shortness of breath, an irregular heartbeat, or dizziness, stop immediately and consult a doctor.
Weight training can have long-term benefits in controlling blood pressure. Hypertensive people are usually asked to avoid lifting weights, as it causes a high increase in blood pressure. Weight training is a high-intensity workout and can lead to major spikes in blood pressure. This is a temporary risk. If done correctly, weight training can be beneficial in the long run.
While including weight training in your regular exercise plan,
- Use proper form and technique to minimize injury.
- Breathe easily and consistently, don’t hold your breath
- Don’t strain yourself too much. Stop the activity if you feel any unbearable pressure or pain.
- Lifting heavier weights might be more strenuous. Instead, opt for lighter weights and increase the number of repetitions.
Before adding weight training to your exercise plan, if you’re hypertensive, talk to your doctor to come up with a suitable plan that can help you.
- Blood pressure spikes during exercise because the blood supply-demand on the heart increases. Your muscles need more oxygen supply during exercise. The heart starts pumping faster, and this leads to a rise in systolic pressure.
- The sooner the blood pressure spike drops after exercise, the more fit and healthy you are. Some people have exercise hypertension, which is a constant high spike in blood pressure, and this is a cause for concern.
- Variations in the EDN1 and GNAS genes are associated with differences in blood pressure. Men with a history of hypertension, having the T allele of SNP rs62205366 found in the GNAS gene, were found to have lower blood pressure after aerobic activity. The G allele of SNP rs5370 found in the EDN1 gene puts people at a higher risk of hypertension.
- Fitness, physical activity, smoking, age, obesity, and heart rate influence blood pressure recovery times after exercise.
- Exercise can also be an effective way to control blood pressure in hypertensive people. Aerobic exercises can help lower blood pressure. Weight training, if done properly, can be effective in the long run.