Weightlifting and High Blood Pressure

Monday, May 3rd, 2010 by American Senior Fitness Association   View This Issue of Experience!

The Mayo Clinic has some sound advice for persons with high blood pressure who are interested in taking up weightlifting, as follows:

  • Consult with your physician before beginning any exercise program in order to adopt a plan that is individualized to your needs and medical status.
  • Note that weightlifting can cause a temporary rise in blood pressure; how much is mainly dependent upon the amount of weight lifted. However, regular physical exercise (including moderate weightlifting) leads to health benefits outweighing the risk for most people and can lower blood pressure in the long-run.
  • If you have high blood pressure, lift lighter weights. Heavy weight causes more strain and, in turn, a higher spike in blood pressure. To challenge your muscles using lighter weight, increase the number of repetitions you perform.
  • Never hold your breath while weight training. Breath-holding can raise blood pressure dangerously. Do breathe naturally and continuously throughout every lift.
  • Use proper form to minimize the risk for accidental injury.
  • Stop activity if you experience severe shortness of breath, dizziness, chest pain or chest pressure.
  • SFA guidelines call for notifying one’s physician at once in the case of chest pain or pressure, and in the event of recurring breathlessness or dizziness.


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