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Beta-Blockers: Can Your Prescription Impact Your Exercise?

Beta-Blockers: Can Your Prescription Impact Your Exercise?

Exercise is a very common, not to mention a healthy, way to burn off nervous energy when your stress levels are starting to feel out of control.

In fact, research has shown that even just five minutes of aerobic exercise can lessen anxiety levels and help you start feeling calmer.

But what if you turn to beta-blockers to quell the physical symptoms of situational anxiety before an important presentation, job interview, or test?

Is it still safe to exercise?

As with most questions related to prescription medications, the answer is: well, it depends.

Your personal health history, the Propranolol dosage you take, and a whole host of other factors can impact whether or not exercise and your medication are safe for you.

To be safe, you should always check with your doctor.

However, for most people who are taking a small dose of Propranolol on an as-needed basis for performance anxiety, exercise is safe and is in fact, recommended by doctors for all the benefits to the heart, lungs, muscles, and brain that it provides.

Generally, our doctors recommend taking between 10-20mg of Propranolol one hour prior to your event, including public speaking, interviews, or other performances. And chances are you aren’t fitting in much exercise within one hour of a big presentation or job interview anyway.

Still, if you plan to exercise on beta-blockers, there are a few things you should know.

How Does Propranolol Affect Your Heart Rate?

Beta-blockers block the effects of epinephrine (adrenaline) on the body, lowering your heart rate and, with it, your blood pressure.

In the short term, exercise raises your heart rate. So if you’ve taken your prescription prior to exercise, the medication may limit how high your heart rate can go.

Over time, exercise causes similar effects to this type of medication, decreasing your resting heart rate and blood pressure.

How Do Beta-Blockers And Exercise Interact?

There are two main risks to exercising after taking beta-blockers: dehydration, and over-exertion.

Dehydration is characterized by:

  1. Excessive thirst
  2. Fatigue
  3. Diminished sweating

You should be alert for any of these side effects. And always be sure to keep a water bottle nearby if you’re exercising!

Over-exertion is more likely something to look out for in those who use a target heart rate to exercise. As we mentioned above, beta-blockers can limit how high your heart rate can go meaning you may not reach the target heart rate you normally would if you hadn’t taken your medication.

And it’s important you don’t push yourself more than you should.

In fact, doctors generally recommend taking caution not to overdo anything if you’re exercising while taking your prescription.

Warning signs that you might be pushing yourself too hard include:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Lightheadedness
  • Inability to talk

As with any prescription medication, trust your body. Speak with your doctor before you begin an exercise regimen, especially if you plan on taking Propranolol first.

And if something feels off, tell your doctor.

Propranolol can be an effective treatment option for people looking to overcome performance anxiety, stage fright, and social anxiety. Start an online consult with a board-certified Kick doctor today to learn if this beta-blocker medication is right for you.

Reviewed by Dr. Alex Dimitriu

Dr. Alex Dimitriu is a Stanford-trained physician with dual board certification in psychiatry and sleep medicine. The included content is not intended to replace medical advice. Always be sure to discuss any prescription medications with your doctor.