High Blood Pressure and Resistance Exercise

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High BP and Exercise

Is it ok to begin a resistance exercise program if I have high blood pressure?

Men with high blood pressure or men who are taking antihypertensive medication have a positive coronary heart disease risk factor (Coronary Heart Disease Risk Factors). [High blood pressure is defined as systolic BP > 140 mm Hg or diastolic BP > 90 mm Hg measured on two separate occasions.]

  • If high blood pressure is your only risk factor, the American College of Sports Medicine does not recommend a medical exam or an exercise test prior to beginning an exercise routine. Nonetheless, it would be advisable to visit a physician to ensure that no other positive risk factors exist (i.e. abnormal blood lipids or diabetes.)
  • If one or more risk factors exist in addition to high blood pressure, it is absolutely necessary to seek medical evaluation prior to beginning any resistance training regimen.



Will Resistance Exercise Increase My Current Blood Pressure?

This question is important because men with borderline high or high blood pressure certainly will not want to begin any exercise program that exacerbates their condition. While resistance training may temporarily increase blood pressure during exercise, recent analysis of resistance exercise on blood pressure has shown that resistance exercise does not increase blood pressure outside of during the training itself. In fact, studies have shown that regular resistance exercise decreases both resting systolic and diastolic blood pressures. Additionally, these decreases are similar in magnitude to the changes associated with aerobic exercise.1,2

The Conclusion on High Blood Pressure and Resistance Exercise

Regular resistance exercise will not increase your resting blood pressure and is in fact more likely to cause a decrease in resting systolic and diastolic blood pressures.

EMG Exercise Homepage: Exercise for Men


1. Cornelissen VA, Fagard RH. Effect of resistance training on resting blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. J Hypertens. Feb 2005; 23 (2): 251-259.

2. Whelton SP, Chin A, Xin X, He J. Effect of aerobic exercise on blood pressure: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Ann Intern Med. Apr 2002; 136 (7): 493-503.