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Exercise Contraindications in People With High Blood Pressure

Diet and exercise are often a part of the treatment plan for individuals with high blood pressure, or hypertension, before or in addition to medications prescribed by a physician. Moderate-intensity aerobic exercise has been shown to help control blood pressure when individuals complete 30 minutes or longer five or more days a week. There are, however, some restrictions to exercise for those with high blood pressure. All exercise programs should be approved by your physician.


Individuals with high blood pressure should receive clearance from their physician before beginning any exercise program. While exercise is considered safe and beneficial in treating high blood pressure, it is important to follow the intensity guidelines provided by your physician to avoid complications.

Blood Pressure Guidelines

As a person exercises, blood pressure naturally increases to keep up with the increased oxygen and energy needs of the body. Individuals with a resting blood pressure of more than 180/110 mmHg should not exercise. Those whose blood pressures increase above 260/120 mmHg during aerobic exercise are also restricted from exercise. The reason for these restrictions is to avoid further health complications, such as heart attack, stroke or aneurysm, that can result from high blood pressure.

Underlying Medical Conditions

The increased blood flow from exercise has the possibility to exacerbate conditions, such as congestive heart failure and diabetes, during exercise, which can lead to other health risks, such as heart attack and injury. Uncontrolled arrhythmia and those with resting heart rates over 100 beats per minute should be monitored by a physician and forgo exercise until these conditions are controlled and exercise is recommended by your physician to avoid exacerbating these conditions.

Isometric Exercise

Isometric exercise, defined as exercise involving overcoming an immovable force and held in a static position for a defined period of time, should be avoided in those with high blood pressure. Examples of isometric exercises include holding a weight straight out in front or attempting to lift immovable objects. If isometric exercise is needed, such as during core exercises, be sure to breathe through the exercise. These should not be performed without consent from your physician.