Take a second to feel your pulse. Actually, take 60 seconds. Your pulse is a direct measure of your heart’s rate which is how many times it beats every minute.  Do this with me: with one palm facing the sky take 2 fingers of the other hand and place them on the outer part of your arm (thumb side) just before you wrist crease and feel your heart beat.  DUB, DUB, DUB. Appreciate the organ that pumps blood to the rest of your body and how many times it beats. Before we discuss the topics that I know are on your minds such as fitness trackers,  nutritional supplements, weight management, injury prevention and much more,  let us get to the heart of the matter.

While you sit quietly at your desk, what is your resting heart rate and what does this mean? 

Although I am not a cardiologist I care deeply about matters of the heart because with a good heart the sky is the limit and you can achieve true physical fitness as described in my first blog #prescriptionforfitness. The normal resting heart rate is between 60 – 80 beats per minute (bpm). Well conditioned runners can have a resting heart rate lower than 60bpm.  If you are sitting calmly, not exerting yourself or looking at that hottie’s facebook or instagram picture, your heart should be beating in the aforementioned range. There is significant variability in heart rate so anywhere between 60 to 100 beats per minutes is considered normal. There is also heart rate variability with breathing so don’t be alarmed if yours changes slightly as you breathe.  As you go about your daily activities your heart beats to pump blood to all the vital organs that keep you going.  When you decide to take a break from your work and daily life and exercise you are directly tending to your heart. Exercise is defined as the act of increasing your metabolic rate for the purpose of enhancing physical fitness.

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You have your favorite gear on and your head phones are plugged in! It is now time for that jog, run or bike ride! How does your heart respond?

As you exercise, your body’s metabolic rate increases and you have a sharp increase in heart rate to meet this increased demand. As your limb muscles propel you through space they require more blood supply. It becomes the heart’s responsibility to deliver the oxygen or ‘food’ needed to keep your muscles going. One of the ways the heart does this is to increase the speed of delivery ( heart rate ). With increasing exercise intensity there is a linear increase in oxygen consumption until your muscles cannot utilize anymore oxygen (VO2max).

The target exercise intensity for optimal aerobic training  in a healthy, young individual should be 70%-80% of  your maximum heart rate ( 220-Age)

Why am I prescribing that you get out those running or cycling shoes and get your heart rate up?

During exercise, the untrained heart can increase its output (liters of blood it pumps to the rest of the body every minute) by 4 fold while the trained heart can increase by 7 fold.1

The well trained heart muscles changes in ways that make it a more powerful pump and supplier of oxygen.2

With endurance training, the trained limb muscles adapt to be become more efficient at utilizing the oxygen the heart delivers therefore taking longer to feel sore. 3

Endurance training ultimately leads to an increase in whole body aerobic capacity.4

These above facts are reasons why when you exercise your heart and body adapt and you are able to run that extra miles, outshine your opponent in that football tournament, keep up with your little children playing catch or simply walk briskly from the parking lot to your desk at work without feeling short of breath. So always tend to your heart because a good heart is the foundation on which all beautiful things are built. For an insightful discussion on concurrent endurance and resistance training and how they might interfere with one another, look out for my blog #allfitmdrunandsculpt.

Finally, if I told you that exercise and physical activity have been shown to decrease the risk of heart disease, strokes and type 2 diabetes; prevent and curb depressive disorders and anxiety; protect bones and prevents falls in the elderly and finally lead to a life with more ENERGY, what are some of the barriers that stop you from achieving your fitness goals? I want to hear from you and appreciate your comments.

Until next time folks. Live happy and healthy, live fit.