heart rate and blood pressure

What’s The Connection Between Heart Rate And Blood Pressure?

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Billy Hughes
August 15, 2021
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When you exercise regularly, you get in tune with your heart rate and know that it’s important to check it when you’re working out, post-exercise, and at rest to ensure it’s healthy.

But, you should also take your blood pressure into account. What’s the difference between heart rate and blood pressure?

Your heart rate is the number of times that your heart beats every minute. Your blood pressure is the force of your blood as it moves through the body’s blood vessels. 

The two are definitely connected. Let’s explore what you need to know about them.  

Does Your Blood Pressure Increase Your Pulse? 

pulse and pressure

Maybe you remember hearing that your blood pressure could cause your heart rate to increase, but is this the case?

While it can happen, it’s not necessarily true that your heart rate and blood pressure will increase at the same time.

An increasing heart rate doesn’t cause your blood pressure to increase at the same rate. While your heart will be beating more every minute, if you have healthy blood vessels these will dilate to accommodate for the increased blood flow in your body.

When you are working out, your heart rate increases to allow for more quantities of blood to get to your muscles. Your heart rate could increase a lot during your workout, while your blood pressure will only increase by a small amount. 

Heart Rate Vs Blood Pressure: Which One Is More Important For Health?

With both blood pressure and heart rate, what’s considered normal will vary. For example, if you’re an athlete, a heart rate of 40 is considered normal and very healthy for you.

For someone who’s not an athlete, that number could be dangerous! Similarly, you might be healthy with a heart rate of 80 beats per minute, while your neighbor might not be.

While an increase in heart rate can vary from one person to the next and still be considered normal, this isn’t exactly the case with blood pressure. When your blood pressure is just a bit over the typical average over time, your risk of stroke and heart disease increases because the high blood pressure will put strain on your blood vessels.

For every increment of 20 mm Hg over 115 mm Hg systolic, your risk of chronic kidney disease, stroke, heart attack, and heart failure doubles.

Of course, it’s worth bearing in mind that having a high heart rate can also be dangerous, but the interesting thing is that what this could cause to happen to you isn’t always clear.

For example, people with faster baseline heart rates are more likely to experience cardiac problems than people who don’t, but it’s not clear if the increased heart rate is the cause of the problem or just a sign of an underlying problem. 

What’s A Normal Blood Pressure? 

measuring blood pressure

The ideal blood pressure reading is 120 mm Hg systolic (which measures the pressure of your heart beating), over 80 mm Hg diastolic (which is the pressure of your heart as it relaxes).

By comparison, a healthy heart rate for adults is between 60 and 100 beats.

What’s A Normal Blood Pressure Reading After Exercise? 

You might be used to taking your pulse after a workout, but you should also check your blood pressure. It’s normal for exercise to boost your blood pressure temporarily.

The faster your blood pressure goes back to its normal reading after exercise, the healthier you are. It’s good to know that exercise increases systolic blood pressure.

However, it shouldn’t significantly change your diastolic blood pressure, which is the measurement of the pressure inside your blood vessels between heartbeats. If you find that it does, then you should consult your doctor.

There’s no blood pressure reading after exercise that’s considered normal across the board for everyone.

Generally, though, your blood pressure reading after a resting period of two hours is considered to be high if it’s greater than 140/90 mm Hg. And, it’s considered low if you’re getting a reading lower than 90/60 mm Hg. 

Is It Safe To Exercise With High Blood Pressure? 

young couple jogging

If you have high blood pressure, it’s actually recommended that you get regular exercise so that you can lower it naturally.

Research has found that people who exercise for more than four hours per week are 19 percent less likely to have high blood pressure than those who are less active than that. 

That said, there are important precautions that you should know before you get started.

  • Be careful of exercise hypertension. Your blood pressure increases during exercise and this is normal, but exercise hypertension is something to be aware of as it happens when your blood pressure creeps higher than 120 mm systolic in men and 190 systolic in women. This is a risk factor for having serious high blood pressure, even when you’re resting.
  • Be careful about your blood pressure medication. If you’re on blood pressure medication, note that this could affect your exercise routine. Many types of blood pressure medication will affect your heart rate and/or your blood pressure. For example, beta blockers can slow down your heart rate, which can make it difficult for you to reach your target heart rate, while ACE inhibitors can cause lower levels of post-workout blood pressure. Therefore, it’s good to consult your doctor before starting an exercise program and start with shorter sessions. If you’re on any medication that affects your heart rate, cool down slowly after exercise. This is because some medications reduce blood pressure at a fast rate if you stop exercising too quickly.
  • Some of the best exercises for blood pressure include aerobic activity, stretching, and strength-building. When engaging in strength training, be sure to avoid heavy weights that produce a Valsalva response – this is when you hold a breath and strain – as it can boost your blood pressure.
  • Check yourself for signs that you’re overdoing the exercise, such as if you feel nauseous, dizzy, lightheaded, or fatigued. 

What about low blood pressure?

It is safe to exercise if you have low blood pressure, but you might experience dizziness when standing up too fast, sweating, weakness, irregular pulse, nausea, or light-headedness.

That’s why it’s essential to speak to a doctor about choosing a safe exercise routine. For example, it will be good to eliminate exercises that can trigger symptoms, such as those that include moving quickly from a seated position to a standing position.

What Are Lifestyle Tips To Reduce Blood Pressure?

how to reduce blood pressure

If the last blood pressure reading at your doctor was a little high, you’ll likely want to know how you can bring it down into a normal range. Here are some tips.

  • Lose some weight. As your weight increases, so does your blood pressure. Weight loss is an excellent way to reduce your blood pressure: if you lose 2.2 pounds of weight, you’ll reduce your blood pressure by approximately 1 mm of mercury (mm Hg).
  • Get regular exercise. Sticking to about 150 minutes of exercise per week can decrease your blood pressure by between 5 and 8 mm Hg. 
  • Eat less salt. By reducing your sodium intake a little, you can reduce your blood pressure by around 5 mm Hg if you have high blood pressure. Generally, it’s good to make sure you don’t eat more than 1,500mg of sodium every day. Sodium content in foods can be sneaky, so always read labels on food products.
  • Limit your daily alcoholic beverages. By limiting your alcohol consumption, you can reduce your blood pressure by around 4 mm Hg. So, if you’re a woman, stick to no more than one drink per day, and if you’re a man stick to no more than two. 

Related Question 

How much exercise should you get?

As long as you’re healthy, you should get two hours and a half of exercise every week. This should be of moderate intensity, such as brisk walking.

When’s the best time to take your blood pressure reading?

You should take your blood pressure reading in the morning before you take medication or eat, and again in the evening. Take two or three readings each time to get accurate results. 

Conclusion

You might know about the relationship between exercise and your heart rate because you feel and possibly even hear your heartbeat during vigorous workouts.

But, knowing what’s going on with your blood pressure is more mysterious. In this article, we’ve explored the connection between your heart rate and blood pressure, as well as your exercise routine and blood pressure reading.

As with your heart rate, it’s vital to take your blood pressure reading on a regular basis to be sure it’s within a healthy range.

Sources:

Billy Hughes

Billy Hughes is a fitness trainer based out of New York. She has registered success in training clients at multiple fitness centers and thus aims to establish her module relevant to the post-pandemic era. Her space, Cerevellum.com, is an attempt towards encouraging and educating more people on the scope of indoor fitness. She believes the power of fitness can transform attitude, personality, and way of living. She also finds it rewarding to help people achieve their goals and make their lives better.