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Exercise Precautions for Low Blood Pressure

author image Lori Newell
I hold a Master's degree in exercise physiology/health promotion. I am a certified fitness specialist through the American College of Spots Medicine and an IYT certified yoga teacher. I have over 25 years experience teaching classes to both general public and those with chronic illness. The above allows me to write directly to the reader based on personal experiences.
Exercise Precautions for Low Blood Pressure
Staying hydrated during exercise will help keep your blood pressure up. Photo Credit: Jupiterimages/Creatas/Getty Images

Regular exercise is important for everyone to keep bones, muscles and heart strong and to lose or maintain a healthy weight. However, if your blood pressure tends to be low, you may need to take some precautions when exercising. Since low blood pressure is sometimes a warning sign of a serious underlying medical condition, always check with your physician about what level of exercise is safe.

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Low Blood Pressure Causes

Before starting any new exercise program it is important to have the cause of your low blood pressure properly diagnosed. Common causes include diabetes, allergic reactions, heart disease and shock, notes MedlinePlus. Your blood pressure also can drop when you change positions too quickly, as a side effect from medications, when you are dehydrated or after consuming alcohol. Once your doctor has diagnosed the underlying problem, then the correct exercise program can be developed.

General Guidelines

When exercising, take precautions to help stabilize your blood pressure. Since your body needs blood to digest food, eating smaller meals before exercise can help. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute also recommends changing positions slowly, such as when standing up after lying down. Taking your blood pressure before exercise can help you to know when it is safe to work out and when your pressure may be too low.

Drink Plenty of Fluid

If you are dehydrated it means that your body is losing more water then you are consuming and it can cause not only low blood pressure but nausea, weakness, dizziness, fatigue, fever, vomiting and severe diarrhea. If you have hypotension and plan to work out, make sure you hydrate properly. If you are participating in vigorous exercise, you may need to drink a sports drink that contains electrolytes as well. Each person's need for water is different, so your doctor can recommend the proper fluid intake based on your personal health.

Take it Slow

If your low blood pressure stems from a heart condition, diabetes or other serious condition, your doctor will set exercise limits. Once you are cleared to work out, take time to properly warm up and cool down so that your heart rate slowly climbs and lowers. Increase the intensity level of your exercise gradually and slow down if you notice symptoms such as weakness, unusual fatigue, an irregular pulse, confusion or dizziness. After your workout, stretch while standing or sitting down versus lying down.

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