04/05/2003 - Questions and Answers

Resting heart rate and exercise

By: Mark Castleden

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Question

I have mildly high blood pressure, and the medication I originally took reduced my resting heart rate to the high 30s, which my doctor gave as the reason for changing to different medication. I do water aerobics 3-5 times a week and this lowers my resting heart rate to 45-55. Is this OK?

Answer

Regular exercise to about 60% of maximum heart rate for 20-30 minutes three times per week is the minimum requirement for a training effect. With training, the resting heart rate becomes slower whilst the cardiac output is maintained, because there is an increased ability to eject more blood per cardiac beat. Adaptive changes occur not only in the heart but in other parts of the circulation, and so there is improved circulation of blood to the working muscles. Regular exercise also gives a feeling of well being and can lower the blood pressure in mildly hypertensive subjects. A resting heart rate in the 30s does seem a bit slow but if yours is now resting between 45 and 55 that is in the low normal range.

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Created on: 07/07/2000
Reviewed on: 04/05/2003

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