Running And Blood Pressure: Why You Should Run If You Have High BP

Running and blood pressure

You have high blood pressure (BP) or hypertension if your blood pressure reading is higher than 140/90 mm Hg. Hypertension is a “silent killer” and is often associated with cardiovascular disease, stroke, and brain hemorrhage. In the year 2000, the estimated total number of adults with hypertension was 972 million – with 333 million in economically developed countries and 639 million in developing countries. And this number is predicted to increase to a total of 1·56 billion by 2025.1

It’s Not Just Safe, It’s Helpful

In a study that examined 5,223 participants over 4 weeks, it was observed that endurance, dynamic resistance, and isometric resistance training (a kind of strength training), performed separately led to lower systolic and diastolic (which is equally important) blood pressure levels. Combined training, on the other hand, only lowered diastolic blood pressure.


Of the 5,223 participants, 3,401 subjects exercised and 1,822 were in the control groups. BP reductions after endurance training were observed to be greater in 26 groups of hypertensive subjects than in the 50 groups of pre-hypertensive participants, that is those who had a 120–130/80–89 mm Hg reading, and 29 groups of those with normal blood pressure levels.

Endurance training typically includes running, jogging, aerobics, and the like, and it was found not only safe for those with hypertension but also beneficial.2


It Will Help You Manage Your Weight And Stress

Physical activities like running not only helps control your blood pressure, it also helps you manage your weight and stress level and strengthen your heart. A healthy weight, a strong heart, and a good emotional health are all good for your blood pressure.3

It Can Help Where Medicines Cannot

Sometimes, even despite medication, the blood pressure levels remain above the 140/90 mm Hg mark. This is called resistant hypertension. So what can be done in such a situation to bring it down?


A recent study offers great insight. In it, 50 subjects with resistant hypertension were divided into 2 groups. One participated in 8–12 weeks of a treadmill exercise program, while the other didn’t. Blood pressure was monitored round the clock. The arterial compliance or elasticity of the arteries, that is, how much they could stretch, relative to the size of the body, was measured. They also measured the cardiac index, that is the amount of blood the left ventricle could release per minute into the circulatory system, which is responsible for carrying blood back and forth between the body and the heart. Though no change was seen in arterial compliance and cardiac index, the other findings were pleasantly surprising.

It was observed that regular exercise not only reduced the hike in blood pressure that exertion usually brings about, but it also increased physical performance by increasing the maximal intake of oxygen. What’s more, it even worked on patients with low response to medical treatment. It’s a win-win!4


Not Just Running, Jogging, Walking, And Swimming Help, Too

According to the Blood Pressure Association of the United Kingdom, different exercises have different effects on your body. While you may need a medical certificate for activities like scuba diving or parachuting, aerobic exercises get the unanimous nod of approval. Why? They are not just repetitive and rhythmic but aerobic exercises use large muscle groups and work out heart and blood vessels. For this reason, walking, jogging, running, and swimming are all good to keep your blood pressure levels in a healthier range.5

Run For 30 minutes A Day, In Installments If You Like

While 30 minutes of running or similar activities per day is advised by medical practitioners to lower blood pressure, it’s not necessary to do it in one go. There goes your “I don’t have the time” excuse. Studies show that 30 minutes of running throughout the day in short bouts is as effective as 30 minutes of continuous running. This helps in reducing the resting systolic blood pressure the next day in pre-hypertensive patients or in those with normal blood pressure.6


Just Don’t Sprint Or Do High-Intensity Interval Exercises

When it comes to high blood pressure and running, consistency in exercise works better than pumped-up bouts. It is always better to jog or run at a comfortable pace than indulge in sprints. Exercises like weight lifting and sprinting, which are intensive for short durations, or other high-intensity interval exercises are a bad idea if you have hypertension. They raise your blood pressure quickly and put strain on your heart and blood vessels.7

So, high blood pressure can no longer be an excuse for not going running, isn’t it? It just became one more reason you should go running.