Resistance Training
For High Blood Pressure!

What are the benefits of resistance training if you have high blood pressure? Well for a start, it is proven to lower diastolic pressure (resting heart pressure) which is associated with exercise. It can help to improve the flexibility of your joints and muscles and ease the strain of exercise, a common excuse that puts many of us off the idea of exercising in the first place.

Warming up followed by muscle stretching is a great stress reliever too, benefiting those with stress induced hypertension. As the muscles strengthen and grow, an increase in capillary density helps reduce peripheral resistance. Stress hormones are lowered too which may reduce your blood pressure.

I found it very relaxing to add some resistance training to my workout. I use the leg press, leg extension, rowing machine, exercise bike, and treadmill.

what are the drawbacks?

For benefits to mean anything, one would need to alternate their exercise program to incorporate other types like aerobic exercises. This is not necessarily a bad thing! Alternating your exercise program keeps it fresh and stimulating.


The majority of websites discussing this subject are still publishing misconceptions about resistance training or weight training. They are still promoting the idea that people with high blood pressure should avoid this form of exercise because they say it can increase their pressure. This is not the case as more up-to-date studies have shown at the least, a drop in systolic pressure by 3mmHg. This is not a lot but when incorporated into a varied exercise routine, can add to an overall increased reduction.

Another misconception to clear up is that resistance training will give you big muscles. Not true! Weight training is NOT the same as weight lifting! You will only develop big muscles if you increase your weights too quickly, beyond what you really need, and weight lift for long periods at a time.

How Does Resistance Training Work to Reduce Blood Pressure?

Put simply, the muscles need oxygenated blood to work, so resistance in the veins and arteries needs to be lowered so that the blood gets through quickly enough. When you increase your exercise, the veins and arteries widen to allow a high volume of blood through to feed the muscles with oxygenated blood, while the blood is shunted away from other parts of the body that are less active, by contracting muscles around the blood vessels. This causes the needed resistance. The stronger the muscles and the fitter the person, the better the oxygenated blood is metabolized. That means the rise in blood pressure is natural and is essential for the blood to feed the muscles with needed oxygen and to work against the resistance. This blood pressure is normal and safe. As long as the systolic pressure does not go beyond 220 mmHg, it will not damage the heart, kidneys, brain and eyes.

The beauty of it is, you get a decrease in total peripheral resistance to let more blood through for the working muscles and it can continue on for 22 hours after exercise has finished. The end result is a lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and a stronger heart with regular exercise.


Other Forms of Resistance Training are Isometrics and Stretch Training.

Static exercise (Isometrics) is when you try to lift or move an object that`s too heavy, but you actually don`t move it, or yourself. Again it was thought this kind of exercise was dangerous for those with hypertension but recent test give a favorable result. The decrease recorded has been as much as 5mmHg in resting diastolic pressure.

Then there`s stretching or flexibility exercises another form of resistance training. This exercise is applied to bring flexibility to muscles, especially around joint to allow more flow in movement. The benefits that people have noted go further. It is said that stretching helps to relieve stress and leave you with a feeling of euphoria. You warm up first by light exercise, and then stretch your muscles.

I found the book Action Plan for High Blood Pressure (Action Plan for Health) by Jon Divine highly informative. The book is full of illustrations on resistance training free style positions and how to use some of the lifting equipment you will find at most gyms. Try the library for the book or click the link to get your own copy.


  1. Do not hold your breath when lifting weights as this could lead to a peak in blood pressure. Remember to breath out during the most difficult point.
  2. Start by building up from light weights to determine what you threshold is. If you cannot lift after 7 to 10 repeats, then you have reached it.
  3. To prevent injuries in exercise, it is recommended that you do not extend your time and exertion more than 10% a week, and remember to warm up first before any stretching!
  4. Plan your exercise program with your doctor and a trained coach if possible, because body mass, physic, hereditary factors all determine what exercise to avoid and which are the safest.While we are on the subject of stretching. If you have a dog or cat as a pet, have you noticed that when they wake up from a nap the first thing they do is stretch several muscles. It is a very natural thing that humans tend to be negligent in. But why do we do this? We don`t exercise while we sleep, quite the opposite.Well during your sleeping hours your heart rate slows down so the blood pressure also slows down. The result is that circulation slows down too, so blood begins to pool in the smaller veins. Stretching is a natural body mechanism to contract muscles and bring pressure back up to get the pooled blood moving again. So now you know why blood pressure is usually low in the morning. If it`s high, go see the doc.