Physical fitness affects pulse and blood pressure. Both are measurements of your cardiovascular health. A runner's blood pressure and pulse will typically be lower than those of someone who isn't as fit because a runner's body is able to work more efficiently.
Normal blood pressure is 120/80. A runner's blood pressure and heart rate should be lower. As everyone's physiology is different, there can be no set number.
How Running Affects Pulse
The pulse, also known as the resting heart rate, refers to the number of times your heart beats per minute. The unit of measurement is BPMs, and the reading is a single number, such as 60 BPM.
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The heart beats 60 to 100 times per minute when most people are at rest, notes the Cleveland Clinic, but the resting heart rate is usually lower in physically fit people. Generally, the lower the pulse, the more fit you are.
While the average pulse for a nonrunner is 60 to 100 BPM, a runner in peak condition could have a pulse as low as 40 BPM. The best time to take your pulse is in the morning, after a good night's sleep and before getting out of bed, according to the American Heart Association.
Read more: What Is Normal for Blood Pressure?
How Running Affects Blood Pressure
Blood pressure is a measurement of the pressure of blood against the walls of your arteries. The unit of measurement is mm Hg, which means millimeters of mercury. Your blood pressure reading has two numbers, such as 120/80.
The top number is the systolic pressure, or the pressure as the heart beats and forces blood into your arteries. The second number is the diastolic pressure, or the pressure as your heart relaxes between beats.
Running lowers blood pressure for the same reason it lowers your resting heartbeat — the heart doesn't have to pump as hard to get blood into your arteries.
Blood Pressure and Running
Normal blood pressure for an active male is 120/80. Anything over 140/90 is considered high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. Exercise is known to lower blood pressure. In fact, becoming more active can slash blood pressure by as much as 4 to 9 mm Hg, which is as much as some blood pressure medicines, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Low blood pressure symptoms include dizziness or even nausea, but low blood pressure is much better than high blood pressure, which increases the risk of a heart attack. Lower blood pressure is associated with a longer life expectancy, and there are definitely benefits to low blood pressure in sports.
Read more: Normal Blood Pressure Range by Age
Other Benefits of Running
In addition to lowering your pulse and blood pressure, physical activity such as running raises your levels of good cholesterol. Running also helps to manage your stress level, decrease your risk of depression, ensure that you are getting enough vitamin D, and keep your weight within a healthy range, reports the American Heart Association. All of these factors are good for your heart.
- American Heart Association: "Blood Pressure Vs. Heart Rate (Pulse)"
- American Heart Association: "Physical Activity Improves Quality of Life"
- Cleveland Clinic: "Busting 6 Myths About Blood Pressure and Heart Rate"
- Mayo Clinic: "Exercise: A Drug-Free Approach to Lowering High Blood Pressure"
- American Council on Exercise: Exercise and Hypertension