How March Madness Affects Your Blood Pressure

He shoots…he scores! March Madness might be a great way to reconnect with your alma mater or discover a new Cinderella team. But if you’re not careful, it’s also a time of the year that can raise your blood pressure and impact your health.  And, it doesn’t always matter if you’re a coach or a fan. Why?


There’s no doubt that high levels of stress can lead to temporary but dramatic increases in blood pressure – and continued stress can keep your blood pressure high and lead to further heart problems. Whether your stress comes from wanting your team to play into April or on financial obligations (50 million Americans risk a total of $3 billion during March Madness), there are ways to better manage it. Know what triggers in your life make stress worse – perhaps overeating or alcohol – and avoid them as much as possible.

Unhealthy Eating

USD Toreros vs Gonzaga Bulldogs 02-02-13
USD Toreros vs Gonzaga Bulldogs

According to a study, pizza orders increase by 19 percent after your team loses in the Big Dance. Combine that with unhealthy food options often on the buffet at game watches or in the arena, and your blood pressure is heading north. offers recipes for tasty – but healthy – March Madness dishes like buffalo chicken wings, beer cheese spread, and brown sugar smokies.


Little known fact: sales of alcohol are prohibited to more fans at NCAA-sponsored events. If you’re at home or the bar watching the game, it’s another story. Over time, heavy drinking can damage your heart. And if you’re already on blood pressure medications, alcohol can keep them from working well. Tempted to grab a beer with your buddies? Ask if they want to go to a campus restaurant – which might not sell alcohol – to cheer along with students. Keep it to one drink a day for women, two drinks a day for men if you do decide to open the bottle.

Physical Activity

With 16 days in one day and television coverage on seemingly every channel, there’s much temptation to hit the couch instead of the gym. It only takes 30 minutes of physical activity to lower high blood pressure – that’s about one quarter of a televised game when you take timeouts, commercials, and halftime into account. If you have access to a treadmill, elliptical, or stationary bike with a TV screen, use it during the game to channel your nervous energy and stay active. Or, make March Madness a game in itself – try challenging yourself by doing a pushup for every free throw made, 10 jumping jacks at every timeout. Foul? 5 bicep curls. The options are endless!

For more tips and information about high blood pressure, visit the Measure Up/Pressure Down® website.

The Measure Up/Pressure Down™ Campaign

View posts by The Measure Up/Pressure Down™ Campaign
Measure Up/Pressure Down™ is a national high blood pressure campaign led by the American Medical Group Foundation. The campaign leverages the coordinated delivery systems of nearly 150 organized systems of care to achieve a goal of 80 percent of patients in control of their blood pressure by 2016.Concurrently, it taps the resources and reach of national partners (including Men’s Health Network) and sponsors to raise awareness of what high blood pressure is, the risks it poses, and what people can do to prevent and manage it.  Follow Measure Up/Pressure Down on Twitter: @MUPDcampaign Like Measure Up/Pressure Down on Facebook: MeasureUpPressureDown


  1. Harry deCaboMarch 27, 2015

    Watching sports on television is always bittersweet for me. I love watching the games with my pals, but I hate how often I eat poorly as I do it. The day that eating carrots and celery as snacks while watching a game is commonplace is hopefully the day I can stop feeling guilty. Maybe next year.

  2. Sam DrexlerApril 14, 2015

    Running on a treadmill while watching March Madness has helped me manage my stress during some of these intense nail-biters. I feel like I’m really part of the action. Go Blue Devils!

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top