Many people experience low blood pressure, also known as hypotension, after exercising. In general, individuals who regularly exercise tend to have lower blood pressure and a slower heart rate than people who are not as physically fit. A variety of conditions, such as pregnancy, heart problems, dehydration and a lack of nutrients in the diet can also be sources of low blood pressure.
The most common symptoms experienced with low blood pressure are dizziness, fainting, blurred vision, nausea, thirst and cold, clammy, pale skin. Other symptoms include lack of concentration, fatigue and depression. If these symptoms are experienced and persist, it is important to make note of what happens and when it happens so that a doctor may be able to help if necessary.
Dehydration may be the most common cause of low blood pressure after exercise. When the body loses more water than it takes in, dehydration occurs. Maintaining an adequate hydration status can not only prevent or reduce the effect of low blood pressure after exercise, but it can also allow the body to perform at a high level athletically. Being adequately hydrated before a workout is a good measure in avoiding, or at least minimizing, the effects that dehydration-induced low blood pressure can cause. The American Dietetic Association recommends drinking 5 to 10 oz. of water 30 minutes before exercise. It is also important to drink water throughout a workout. For hydration during exercise the ADA recommends an average of 5 to 10 oz. of water every 15 to 20 minutes during exercise to maintain a good hydration status -- though your needs may be higher if you tend to sweat more than others or are in a warmer climate than usual.
Symptoms of low blood pressure can be experienced upon standing up. When this occurs it is medically known as orthostatic hypotension. These symptoms may be experienced when standing after sitting or lying on the floor to stretch after exercising and can be enhanced if you are dehydrated after the workout as well. The Mayo Clinic recommends you move slowly from a sitting or lying position to reduce or avoid the dizziness or lightheadedness associated with orthostatic hypotension.
Reducing or Preventing Symptoms
Techniques to reduce or prevent symptoms of low blood pressure will depend on the cause of low blood pressure. Drinking more water to stay adequately hydrated at all times is a nearly universal recommendation for individuals with hypotension. Just because a high dietary sodium intake is associated with high blood pressure does not necessarily mean that it is an accurate solution to symptoms of low blood pressure. You should visit your primary care physician if you experience symptoms of low blood pressure consistently or with increasing frequency or severity -- particularly after exercise. Your doctor can help determine the source of the symptoms to accurately and safely establish a way to address the issue if needed.