Why Does My Blood Pressure Drop When I Exercise?

Glenn Gandelman, MD, MPH Health Pro January 16, 2007
  • I noticed that after I exercise for about 60 minutes my blood pressure drops. What causes the drop in blood pressure?

    Blood pressure normally rises during exercise. However, after exercise stops, blood pressure quickly returns to normal.

    An individual who can exercise for 60 minutes is likely quite fit. The blood pressure rise during exercise in such a person would likely be minimal and the decrease afterwards would be rapid. This too is normal.

    However, there are conditions that can alter the normal exercise induced rise and fall in blood pressure. For example, if one were to stop exercising suddenly without a cool down, the normal post-exercise drop in blood pressure could be dramatic. This phenomenon, called a vagal response, can cause one to feel dizzy, lightheaded, nauseous, or to pass out.

    Cool down for at least five minutes at a slow pace before fully stopping. This problem can be exacerbated by dehydration and overall poor fitness with exercise beyond one’s capabilities. Stay well hydrated and slowly increase your exercise level.

    Other causes of exercise induced blood pressure lowering include problems with coronary arteries, heart muscle, and valves. Discuss this issue with your doctor who may refer you to a cardiologist for heart tests such as ECG, echocardiogram, and stress test.

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