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Can Low Blood Pressure Affect Muscular Endurance?

By Henry Halse ; Updated December 19, 2017

One of the most widespread health problems in the world today is hypertension, or high blood pressure. Therefore, given how prevalent high blood pressure is, it might seem counterintuitive to talk about the dangers of low blood pressure. However, low blood pressure can make your muscles fatigue faster, hurting your muscular endurance.

Measuring Blood Pressure

Your blood pressure is measured by two numbers, displayed as a fraction with one number over another. The top number is called your systolic blood pressure and it measures how hard your blood presses out against your arteries after your heart beats. This is the higher number.

Diastolic blood pressure is the lower number. It measures how hard your blood presses against your arteries when your heart is expanding, preparing to contract again.

If your systolic blood pressure is more than 140, or if your diastolic blood pressure is more than 90, you have high blood pressure. That can dangerous health problems like heart disease.

However, there are no guidelines for low blood pressure. It's only considered a problem if you have some of the symptoms of low blood pressure, like fainting or fatigue.

Blood Pressure During Workouts

Someone with high blood pressure should be careful when they lift weights that their blood pressure doesn't spike too high. When the exercise is over, however, someone with low blood pressure needs to be careful. When you finish your workout, your blood pressure drops as your body slips into recovery mode. If you have low blood pressure, you might feel dizzy and need to sit down.

During your workout, low blood pressure can hurt your muscular endurance. Unlike muscle strength, which determines how much weight you can lift, muscle endurance determines how long you can lift that weight for. High-rep workouts where you do 10 to 20 reps of an exercise test your muscular endurance.

Low Blood Pressure Lowers Endurance

Low blood pressure makes it harder for your body to deliver blood and essential nutrients to a muscle. Your muscles depend on nutrients from blood to keep working. As the number of reps increases they need more and more energy from blood.

When your blood pressure drops your body doesn't pump blood as quickly through your arteries and veins. That makes it harder for precious nutrients to get back to your muscles.

A 2016 study published in the Journal of Hypertension found that children and adolescents had a tougher time with muscle endurance tests if they had low blood pressure. The researchers used a hand grip endurance test to show that people with lower blood pressure couldn't sustain their grip as long.

When to Worry

Low blood pressure might not be as prevalent as high blood pressure, but it can still cause problems in your body. Thankfully, it's normally not something to worry about while you exercise. Unless you're on a medication that affects your blood pressure or have a separate medical problem, your blood pressure will rise as you exercise.

That means people with low blood pressure still shouldn't feel the effects of it while they work out. In the rare case that you still have low blood pressure while you work out you might notice that your muscles fatigue faster.

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