When is it normal for blood pressure to increase?

blood pressure during exercise
While your ideal average blood pressure is below 120/80 mm Hg, blood pressure fluctuates throughout the day depending on what you are doing. Every time your blood pressure spikes does not necessarily equal a medical emergency.


During exercise your muscles demand more oxygen. To meet this need, the heart must pump with increased force to deliver more oxygenated blood with each contraction. As the heart’s workload increases during exercise, systolic blood pressure increases. Systolic blood pressure is the top blood pressure reading and measures the force against artery walls when the heart pumps. It is normal for systolic blood pressure to range between 160 and 220 during exercise.

The diastolic blood pressure, or the bottom number, typically does not change during exercise. Diastolic pressure measures the force against artery walls in between contractions. If your diastolic blood pressure increases during exercise by more than 20 mm Hg or becomes greater than 100 mm Hg, stop exercising and consult your doctor.

Include a cool down period post exercise to avoid sharp drops in blood pressure. A cool down period gradually brings heart rate and blood pressure back to normal.

It is normal for blood pressure during exercise to increase. It should return to normal post exercise. Consistent physical activity will strengthen your heart and promote lower blood pressure levels.


The body produces a surge of hormones – epinephrine, cortisol, endorphins, vasopressin, etc. –  during stressful situations. The release of these hormones leads to increased blood pressure through increased volume of blood pumped by the heart in a single heartbeat, increased heart rate, blood vessel constriction, and reduced renal sodium excretion.

Temporary periods of acute stress resulting in short-term blood pressure spikes is a normal bodily reaction. Once the stressful situation resolves, your blood pressure should return to normal.

However, if temporary blood pressure spikes due to stress occur frequently enough, it can damage blood vessels, the heart, and kidneys. Utilize stress management techniques to minimize blood pressure spikes connected to stress.


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All the best,
Lisa Nelson RD
Health Pro for HealthCentral