As a personal Trainer, my job is to help clients reach their fitness goals safely and effectively. That being said, trainers encounter new health concerns every day and must always be mindful when designing new workouts. Recently, I had a client who felt light headed and dizzy while standing from a bent over position. The reason? It turned out she was suffering from low blood pressure also known as “Hypotension”. Hypotension is not to be confused with “Hypertension” which is when you have high blood pressure.
Here’s the thing, blood pressure is a measure of force in which the blood moves through our arteries. Healthy blood pressure would be around 120/80, whereas my client’s was low at 90/60 or less.
Low Blood Pressure Symptoms
Although low blood pressure may not cause any symptoms, some people will experience: dizziness, weakness, nausea, confusion, blurry vision, shortness of breath, fainting and even blacking out. When a person with low blood pressure performs sudden postural changes, their blood pressure isn’t strong enough to return adequate blood to the brain. These actions are what cause these low blood pressure symptoms to occur.
The good news? Low blood pressure can be managed with healthy diet, regular exercise and drinking plenty of water.
Be certain that you are working out properly with low blood pressure by following these simple exercise modifications:
1: Push ups on an Incline:
Try performing push ups with your upper body elevated. Place your hands on the 3rd or 4th step of your staircase instead of the ground. Chairs, couches and coffee tables make great inclines too. Lower your chest toward the step and repeat. This move will keep your head above your heart which will help with that dizzy feeling. You can increase the difficulty by opting to use a stability ball or Bosu ball instead.
2: Mountain climbers on an incline:
This is the same modification as the push ups on an incline. Use the stairs or another sturdy surface to keep your head above your heart. As you perform the mountain climbers, make sure that you exhale as your draw your knee towards your chest and inhale as you send your leg straight back to it’s starting position. Controlling your breath will allow you to control your movement and help manage symptoms.
3: Standing Back Rows:
Instead of a bent over row for a back strengthening exercise, try a standing row. Grab a resistance band and wrap it around something sturdy, like a banister, and perform a standing upright row. Remember to keep your shoulders away from your ears, and squeeze your shoulder blades together at the end of each pull movement.
4: Standing tricep kickback:
Similar to the standing back row, instead of a bent over tricep kickback, try using a resistance band to perform an overhead tricep extension.
5: Plank on an incline:
Say bye bye to those floor planks; instead, try planking with with your hands or forearms on a coffee table, chair, or couch. For an added challenge, try using a stability ball. The stability ball is my personal favourite; not only will you avoid that dizzy symptom, but you’ll also be using more of your stabilizer muscles.
I’ve seen first hand how truly frustrating working out with low blood pressure can be, but with a few exercise modifications it is possible to reach your fitness goals safely and effectively.
Let us know if we are missing any good modifications and if you want to learn more about low blood pressure and exercise.