Does Lifting Weights Increase Blood Pressure?

Yes, it does, but not in the way that you think.


In order to lift weights, you do have to generate a certain amount of tension in the body to stabilize yourself. This creation of pressure is necessary and beneficial to the performance of the movement.


Using myself as an extreme example as a powerlifter, I’m holding my breath for the large majority of a rep under extreme weight. If you watch me lift, my whole face turns red and it looks like my veins are going to pop out of my forehead.


Blood pressures during these types of lift can reach upward of 300 mmHg. (For reference, the optimal guideline right now is a blood pressure of 120 / 80 mmHg.)


But there’s a big difference between acute blood pressure and your normal resting levels.


I just measured my own blood pressure last week and I read 92 / 60 mmHg, extremely low but optimal in terms of health.


What the evidence shows is that resistance training actually lowers your systolic and diastolic blood pressure by a significant amount. And the amount becomes even larger when you are hypertensive.


For example, it was found that:

  • Resistance training lowered systolic blood pressure by 3.55 mmHg

  • When combined with endurance training it was lowered by 6.49 mmHg

  • And there was no difference found between medium and high intensity


In people that were already hypertensive:

  • Resistance training lowered systolic blood pressure by 7.83 mmHg

  • When combined with endurance training it was lowered by 13.5 mmHg

  • And still, there was no difference found between medium and high intensity


The above data shows exercise to be more effective at tackling hypertension than anti-hypertensive medications. And as long as you’re exercising at a moderately challenging intensity, you can reap these benefits.


So while your blood pressure will increase in order to properly circulate blood supply to where it’s needed during exercise, it has a general lowering effect that’s beneficial to your health.


To your good health,

Coach Stephen



References:

  1. Naci H, Salcher-Konrad M, Dias S, et al. How does exercise treatment compare with antihypertensive medications? A network meta-analysis of 391 randomised controlled trials assessing exercise and medication effects on systolic blood pressure. British journal of sports medicine. 2018.

  2. de Sousa EC, Abrahin O, Ferreira ALL, et al. Resistance training alone reduces systolic and diastolic blood pressure in prehypertensive and hypertensive individuals: meta-analysis. Hypertens Res 2017; 40:927.

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