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Does Exercise Increase Blood Pressure?

During exercise, blood pressure rises. This increases the systolic (upper) number, while the diastolic (lower) number remains the same or decreases. The duration of this increase varies by individual, but it should return to normal within a few minutes after exercising. For people with high blood pressure, aerobic exercise can reduce their pressure by as much as five or seven millimeters of mercury (mmHg). However, post-exercise hypotension can last for up to 24 hours.

The increased blood pressure was linked with poorer endothelial function, which is crucial for the expansion of blood vessels. This is due to the failure of endothelial cells to dilate enough to handle the increased blood flow. While stiffness of the blood vessel walls was not related to the increase in blood pressure during exercise, it was related to aging and high cholesterol levels. The researchers believe this is a common process leading to cardiovascular disease.

After a workout, blood tends to pool in the extremities, leading to a temporary spike in blood pressure. The good news is that the blood pressure should return to normal shortly after. However, people should avoid holding their breath when exercising. Exercising too hard can cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure, which should be avoided at all costs. The same applies to dizziness and chest pain. If these symptoms appear, it is time to stop exercising immediately.

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