Should You Exercise If Your Blood Pressure is High?
We’ve all heard it from fitness trainers and read it in fitness articles: “Warning! Go through a medical checkup before your foot steps into the gym.”
But how many of us have actually done it? “Oh, I will be just fine without some doctor ripping me off to tell me what I already know.”
If you don’t, you may run the risk of a serious injury. That doesn’t sound very enjoyable, does it?
High Blood Pressure (HBP): Deadly Culprit in the Gym
If you’re suffering from high blood pressure, doing physical activity may become a life-threatening experience.
You’re probably aware that any kind of physical activity raises your blood pressure, and in most cases, it not just raises it, but makes it go through the roof.
That’s why you want to keep your blood pressure as low as possible if you’re struggling with HBP.
Raising it even higher with physical activity may have dangerous consequences for your health and can even be fatal, as you might end up having a heart attack or stroke.
Is this the case for everyone? No! Can working out actually be beneficial for your blood pressure? Yes! How do you know? Consult with your physician!
Sedentary Lifestyle and HBP
But that’s only one side of the coin, as many people are not even aware that their blood pressure is high.
In fact, about a third (32%) of all American adults have high blood pressure, according to data by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A sedentary lifestyle, which many of us are guilty of, only aggravates the HBP problem. Let me show you an example.
You’re over 30. You’ve been working at the office for more than a decade now, spending the vast majority of your working day sitting at a desk.
When the clock shows 6 pm, you turn your computer off and leave the office. You go home (a little physical activity there if you go on foot, but most of us drive).
At home, you spend the rest of your day sitting on the couch or desk, watching TV or browsing the Internet — or it might be a seat at a nearby bar if it’s thirsty Thursday.
The point being is that your daily physical activity is reduced to a minimum. The only thing that can count as physical activity at this point of your life is sex, but only if it’s regular, not occasional.
Shocking Your Body in the Gym Isn’t Always Good
That means the last time your heart (really) worked was about 15 years ago, when the physical education teacher in college made you run that 100m as fast as you could.
It’s been 15 years since then…
Your heart is now used to a lazy and moderate lifestyle. And all of a sudden you tell your body, “Surprise, surprise!” and hit the gym. And you hit it hard – you involve the muscles that have been dormant in your body for decades…
Your cardiovascular system is understandably shocked, the heart starts beating faster than ever, and blood pressure skyrockets to a record level.
Now, imagine that you’re suffering from high blood pressure, cardiac dysrhythmia or heart failure. Throw cerebrovascular disease in the mix, too.
In these cases, your first attempt to do a deadlift will actually be a dead lift for you, as morbid as it sounds.
Does It Mean You Can’t Work Out with HBP?
“Yeah, but what does it mean? Does it mean that I will never be able to be physically active if I have any of the above-mentioned diseases?”
Absolutely not. In fact, being physically active is one of the most effective preventative and therapeutic measures against cardiovascular diseases.
But not any type of physical activity is equally preventative and therapeutic, which is why it’s vital to go through a medical check-up and, depending on your physical health, do physical activity as instructed by your physician.
For all you know, your doctor might tell you to stay away from the gym altogether but will give you a green light on swimming or cycling.
Depending on your health, your doctor might allow high-intensity workouts, but recommend warming up thoroughly prior to the workouts. It’s vital for your cardiovascular system to get used to physical activity gradually instead of experiencing shock.
However, all of these restrictions are individualized, and only your physician can determine if you need to take certain precautions before hitting the gym.
In our next article, we’ll review if having back problems or bad joints means you should never work out. Be physically active wisely, and you’ll be healthy and happy as a result!