Exercise and Physical Activity

Lifting Weights and Blood Pressure

My cardiologist recently mentioned that I should consider adding some “strength training” to my exercise program. You might be thinking: What is strength training? How does it affect blood pressure? It is safe to strength train when I have high blood pressure? Can it help lower blood pressure naturally? So strength training means weight or resistance training. That can mean lifting free weights such as dumbbells, going to the gym to use the weight machines, or using the resistance bands (those giant rubber band like things) to challenge and strengthen the muscles.

If you have concerns, you should definitely check with your doctor before starting a strength training program. According to Mayo Clinic, you should avoid lifting weights if your blood pressure is greater than 180/110.

When lifting weights, your blood pressure will temporarily go up, however in the run long, it can help lower your overall blood pressure numbers. The increase during weight lifting depends on how heavy the weight is.

After doing some research online, I decided to start with very light weights. I have some chronic back and hip pain so I’m pretty careful about introducing new exercise. The tiny, adorable weights you see in the picture below are 2lbs each. Heehee. Aren’t they cute?! I bought them on Amazon here. In case that link changes overtime, those dumbbells are called “RBS Neoprene Hand Weights”.

I’m going to summarize what I got out of this Mayo Clinic article about weight lifting and high blood pressure:

  1. Use good form when lifting weights: It makes sense. You’re adding additional weight to your body. This can result in injury if not done correctly. There are many options out there: YouTube videos can be a good casual place to start. If it’s an option to you, consider working with a trainer at the gym or a physical therapist to develop a personalized strength training program and also to have a set of professional eyes watch you learn these skills.
  2. Don’t hold your breath: Doing this while weight lifting can cause your blood pressure to go up even more. Breathe smoothly and continuously as you normally would.
  3. Lighter weights, higher frequency: A good way to prevent huge spikes in blood pressure is to choose lighter weights and lift them more times instead. This will still work out your muscles, but will likely prevent more injuries and also be a little easier on your heart right off the bat.

It’s fun to try something new! Have you tried adding some weights to your exercise program? How’s it going?



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