Heart health

This is important. One of the main adaptations of intense cardiovascular training is a lowering of the resting heart rate. The heart is a muscle. It’s job is to keep a steady consistent flow of oxygenated blood flowing through your body. The more powerful each beat is, the greater the volume of blood that is circulated PER heartbeat. A strong heart beats with greater power, and beats less often to do its job. A weak heart has to accomplish the exact same task, or you die, so if it can’t push a lot of blood per beat, it beats faster to get the same result.

A good analogy:
A strong man goes grocery shopping, and fills 5 heavy bags of groceries. When he gets home he grabs all 5 at once and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment.

A weak man unloads his car of the 5 bags, brings them to his front stoop, and carries two bags up at a time. He has to make more trips to accomplish the same goal.

Now, imagine that both men had to accomplish that goal on the same amount of time, or they would lose the groceries to the other. Who would likely win?

We used to say that every heart has only so many beats in it. How true that sounds.


NYTimes: Heart Rate as a Measure of Life Span

A higher resting heart rate is an independent predictor of mortality, even in healthy people in good physical condition, a new study suggests.

6 thoughts on “Heart health

  1. Great story and a fact that I hoped to be true. Kind of makes my heart beat a bit faster — wait, that’s a bad thing. Back to normal now. 🙂

    Of course, one doesn’t just get a slow heart beat — it takes years of regular exercise — which would explain better health. At least, I assume that’s the only route. Are there other means?


    1. Drugs can artificially slow a heart-rate, but that doesn’t offer the health benefits since those drugs are combating some other highly dangerous medical conditions, and tend to slow down the metabolism and cause other negative consequences. The article concerns otherwise healthy individuals.

      1. I know they call them both “healthy” but it’s it fair to say someone with a lower heart rate is at least healthier in terms of cardio fitness than the the group with the higher rate? I’m wondering if heart rate is a cause or a symptom. Also, besides drugs, I assume there is no quick way to target heart rates. Of course, they don’t really say how much better a given number of lower heart beats is. So, I guess it’s more interesting than it is helpful at this point.


      2. Heart rate that lowers as a consequence of regular properly intensive cardiovascular exercise is a healthy “symptom”; a consequence of the training. People with naturally lower heart rates to begin with may or may not be “healthier”, and may or may not have exercise “advantage”. There are other important heart rate responses that contribute to determining cardiovascular health and athletic/exercise performance:
        1. Heart rate recovery is a critical measure (how quickly the heart rate drops from a max effort to under 100 bpm; the faster it drops the better).

        2. Heart rate response measures the various thresholds that the heart trains at. That is, how difficult is it to get the heart rate to respond, and how high does your max heart rate go? Some individuals will simply not be able to sustain a high level of intensity because their heart rate will not increase sufficiently to supply the body with enough oxygenated blood to continue. As demand increases, they will fatigue quicker. This is also referred to as VO2 max.

      3. Vo2 max is interesting, but not really practical outside of clinical settings. We have various ways of “estimating” a persons VO2 max based on active heart rate measurements, but they’re really just educated guesses based on a big assumption. So the accuracy has very wide variances + or – the statistical average.

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