How quickly should I expect to be able to lower my resting heart rate and blood pressure through exercise?
February 1, 2007 9:33 AM   Subscribe

How quickly should I expect to be able to lower my resting heart rate and blood pressure through exercise?

I just met my personal trainer last night and one of my goals for the next 1.5 months while she is with me is to lower my blood pressure from 138/83 to 120/80 and my resting heart rate from 77 to 72. Is this a realistic goal for this time frame?

I plan on doing 30 minutes of cardio 4 times a week and strength training twice a week on a daily caloric intake of 1,750 calories for the next 1.5 months. I want to be realistic in my expectations for achieving this goal.

Oh, and she just took the one measurement at the gym after work. I know it's not the ideal way to take blood pressure or resting heart rates.
posted by KathyK to Health & Fitness (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not sure about the blood pressure, but I think you can lower your resting pulse by that amount in that time frame. Gains in cardio (stamina and general conditioning) are made much more quickly than gains made by strength training (i.e. an actual change in physique) but you also loose that conditioning much more rapidly. This is from my own personal experience, IANAD or a PT.
posted by ob at 9:42 AM on February 1, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: It seems possible, but it will depend in part on things like how old you are and what kind of shape you are in now. If you're starting from zero (ie zero exercise), you will make rapid gains in fitness, provided that you don't over-do it and injure yourself. Will that translate to lower BP and resting heart rate over that time? Maybe.

Your BP may be borderline high, but not scary. 138/83 is in the normal range if you're 60, but you're right to seek to lower it (through diet and exercise) if you're 25. I assume that is your unmedicated BP?

I think you'll definitely see a change in heart rate, provided you stick to your regimen, but how much of a change I can't say. The important thing is to keep with it, long past your initial 6-week crash course, even if you do not meet either of your goals. Physical activity and sensible eating habits are going to pay huge dividends for your physical and mental health. Have fun, and good luck!
posted by Mister_A at 9:45 AM on February 1, 2007

Your RHR varies a lot from day to day. You should track it by taking it first thing in the morning before you get out of bed. It may well be below 70 at that time, even now. Dropping it five points like that should not be a problem if you keep at the cardio, especially if you go nice and easy during your cardio workouts (which is not the best way to lose weight with cardio, but is probably the best way to have it lower your resting heart rate.
posted by OmieWise at 9:47 AM on February 1, 2007

You could do both provided you stick to your regime within the specified timeframe, Over eight weeks cardio 30-60 mins 4x/week and one circuit 4x/week, my bp went down from 140/80 to 120/70, and resting heart rate went from 78 to 70. I didn't limit calories. I was overweight and lost 25 lbs, which I'm sure helped the bp and heart rate as well.
posted by nj_subgenius at 9:55 AM on February 1, 2007

Actually, I'd recommend yoga for that too. I mean, the strength training & cardio & diet are obviously good to do, but yoga really teaches you about being aware of your breath and the workings of your body on a constant basis. I had hand surgery last year and was sitting in bed bored, with a heart monitor on me. As an experiment, I started doing breathing exercises I learned in yoga and was able to lower my heart rate a shocking amount. It was pretty amazing. Yoga can really help the body in a lot of ways.

I don't take it right now, but just understanding & keeping awareness of my breathing has helped to keep my health & stress levels a lot better than they were before. I know my blood pressure & heartrate are MUCH healthier now. No question.
posted by miss lynnster at 10:04 AM on February 1, 2007

Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents...that you really REALLY should focus on your breathing too. Back when I was getting all kinds of tests to figure out why I kept passing out, I enjoyed freaking out the doctors by dropping my heart rate to 51bpm and lowering bp to like 90/50 just by focused calming breathing. Of course then when I'd stand up and it would shoot to 180 and like 160/110 respectively, then pass out, it really got them wondering. :)
posted by TomMelee at 11:27 AM on February 1, 2007

RHR does change really quickly. BP I don't know.
posted by unSane at 6:18 PM on February 1, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks everyone. I asked my doctor the same question and he couldn't say for sure either (implying that a lot depended on me), however, any change in diet and exercise would definitely improve my blood pressure and resting heart rate which is a good thing. I'll keep doing my plan and see how things measure up at the end.

Thanks again!
posted by KathyK at 5:50 AM on February 5, 2007

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