A person's blood pressure measures the pressure of the blood within the arteries. This pressure is produced by the heart beating.
Standard Systolic Pressure
Systolic pressure is the first number given with blood pressure and measures the highest pressure right after the heart contracts. For both men and women, a normal systolic blood pressure is below 120. A systolic blood pressure 120 to 139 is considered prehypertension, 140 to 159 is in Stage 1 hypertension, and 160 or more is Stage 2 hypertension.
Standard Diastolic Pressure
Diastolic pressure is the second number given with blood pressure and measures the lowest pressure right before the heart contracts. For both men and women, a normal diastolic blood pressure is below 80. A diastolic blood pressure 80 to 89 is considered prehypertension, 90 to 99 is in Stage 1 hypertension, and 100 or more is Stage 2 hypertension.
Variations with Exercise
Exercise will increase your blood pressure as your heart works harder. In men, the increase is greater. This difference becomes especially pronounced with age.
A high blood pressure can greatly increase a person's risk of a heart attack or stroke. Unfortunately, there are not always symptoms of high blood pressure until it is very far along, so it is best to maintain regular check-ups to keep an eye on your level.
Both men and women should work to keep their blood pressure within the normal range by adopting a healthy lifestyle. Steps to bring down a high blood pressure should include losing any extra pounds and keeping them off, exercising regularly, eating a healthy diet (watch fat and cholesterol especially), reducing intake of sodium and alcohol, avoiding tobacco and caffeine, and decreasing your stress level.