When your heart contracts, it pumps blood throughout your body via the arteries. To evaluate the efficiency of your heart and how well it is pumping blood, measurements must be taken. The measurement used for this purpose is called blood pressure. The results are found by calculating the amount of blood pumped and the force of the blood against the walls of your arteries.
Blood pressure is measured as millimeters of mercury or mm/Hg. It is shown by using the systolic pressure over the diastolic pressure. Systolic pressure is the highest pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts. The diastolic pressure is the lowest pressure in the arteries while the heart is resting. According to the American Heart Association, normal results should be 120/80 or less for adults. Higher-than-normal readings as well as lower-than-normal readings should be evaluated by your physician.
Designing a good workout routine involves understanding your overall health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggest that each person should get a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity or exercise five days a week. While meeting these goals, you need to evaluate your blood pressure before, during and after your workout to get a basic understanding of how you are affected.
Working out will affect your blood pressure. For the normal population, the systolic pressure should rise during a workout. The diastolic pressure should stay level or possibly drop slightly. The slight drop in the diastolic pressure is due to the vasodilation, or enlargement of your arteries, during a workout. However, you should be aware that a drop in diastolic pressure more than 10 to 20 mm/Hg is considered abnormal and should be reviewed by a doctor.
Any drastic increase or decrease of your blood pressure should be discussed with a doctor. Excessive change during or after exercise could mean that you have cardiovascular or heart problems, according to the University of New Mexico website. Some medications may change your ideal blood pressure. If so, you need to discuss whether you are healthy enough for excessive exercise.
In individuals who have spinal cord injuries, it is not uncommon to see diastolic blood pressure levels fall 10 to 20 mm/Hg after exercise. Although a regular occurrence, it does not mean those with spinal cord injuries are exempt from being monitored. In fact, these patients need to be monitored more often. Additionally, any pain felt during exercise should be evaluated, and chest pain should be treated as an emergency.
- MedlinePlus: High Blood Pressure
- IDEA Today: Exploring the Mysteries of Exercise
- RRDS Physical Fitness : A Guide for Individuals with Spinal Cord Injury: Factors That Influence Exercise Tolerance
- American Heart Association: Understanding Blood Pressure Readings
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Physical Activity for Everyone