Lifting a heavy weight or doing a heavy pressing movement like a leg press can raise blood pressure to numbers like 350 systolic (the top number) to 150 diastolic (the bottom number) -- even in people with normal blood pressure of 120/80. Running can also raise systolic blood pressure to around 200, but usually without raising diastolic pressure much at all.
For this reason, in the past, people with heart disease or high blood pressure have been advised to stay away from weight training.
However, several analyses of scientific studies of people doing weight training seem to show that progressive weight training lowers blood pressure by 2% to 4%. Other recent advisories suggest that weight training is acceptable for people recovering from heart disease. So what's the story?
Common sense comes into play here. First, get your regular doctor's opinion. He should know the state of your cardiovascular system better than anyone. If your blood pressure has been high, but is now under control, he may suggest that light, progressive weight training is okay. That is, build up slowly after starting with light exercise. And unless you're an advanced weight lifter or powerlifter, you should give the valsalva maneuver a miss -- a technique in which you virtually hold your breath under pressure of the lift or press. Exhaling on exertion is important.
If you have uncontrolled hypertension, or an unstable heart condition, you may get a "no' from the doc until things improve.
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