Stress increases blood pressure, but apparently not in physically fit women. According to Rod K. Dishman, professor and director of the Exercise Psychology Laboratory at the University of Georgia, ?one of the potential benefits of being physically fit for women is a lessened blood pressure response to stress, which may help explain why fit women have lower risk for developing hypertension and coronary heart disease.?
In Dr. Dishman?s study, published in the September 2002 issue of Psycho-physiology, 13 men and 13 women aged 19 to 38 were first tested for fitness and then given stressor tasks, one of which was holding a hand in ice water for 2 minutes. During this test, the more physically fit women had a much lower increase in blood pressure than the less fit. There was no similar effect among the men, however.
?The blunted systolic blood pressure response among the fitter women has implications for clarifying the usefulness of the hand in ice test as a predictor of future risk of hypertension among women,? the article concluded.