The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Enid Features

June 26, 2014

Heart rate: What it means

 At your doctor’s office, the nurse puts her fingers on your pulse after taking your blood pressure. At the gym, you stop the treadmill now and then to check the carotid artery in your neck.

Heart rate is an important measure of your exercise intensity as well as your overall health. Do you know your resting heart rate and what it means? Do you understand about target heart rates during exercise? In terms of health, recovery heart rate may be the most important of all.

Heart rate refers to how many times the heart beats every minute — pumping blood to every cell in the body. The pumping is done by the left lower chamber of the heart, which must be healthy enough to sustain the effort, minute after minute, day after day — about 100,000 beats a day, 37 million beats a year.

Resting heart rate refers to the number of beats the heart is making when you’re resting. The best time to take your resting heart rate is when you first wake up in the morning, preferably before you get out of bed. Count the beats for a full 60 seconds. The number you get will be a bit higher once you stand up, but that’s OK. The most important thing is that you take your pulse the same way every day.

It makes sense that a healthy heart is capable of accomplishing its task more efficiently. And studies have found that persons with lower heart rates are not only fitter, but tend to live longer. The ideal resting heart rate for an adult is 60 to 100. Generally, it’s best to be at the lower end of the range.

If you’re just starting an aerobic exercise program, it’s a good idea to take your resting heart rate every morning and track the trend. You can expect a steady drop over the first six to eight weeks. That means that you are getting fitter, with a more efficient and healthy cardiovascular system. If your resting heart rate suddenly goes up 10 or 15 beats some morning without explanation, it may be a sign that you are training too hard and would benefit from a rest.

When you’re working out, you may notice your heart beating faster; that’s normal. The goal of aerobic exercise is to raise your heart rate and keep it there for an extended period.

For maximum benefit, most trainers recommend a target heart rate of 65 to 85 percent of maximum heart rate. As a rule of thumb, maximum heart rate can be determined by subtracting your age from 220 if you are a male or 226 if you are a female. In other words, a 40-year-old female has a maximum heart rate of 186 and should work out at an intensity between 121 (65 percent) and 158 (85 percent) beats per minute. A heart rate of 50 percent of maximum (93 beats) will give a lower intensity, though still beneficial, workout.

Most persons who exercise regularly can usually tell by perceived effort alone whether they are working out at low, moderate or high intensity. The higher the intensity, the more labored the breathing.

If you use the carotid artery to determine your heart rate during exercise, take it for 10 seconds and then multiply by 6. Another good method is to use a heart rate monitor to guide your exercise.

In terms of cardiovascular health, one very important factor is how quickly your heart recovers after a strenuous workout. This is known as recovery heart rate.  Complete recovery back to your resting heart rate may take several hours after even a moderate workout. But what you’re looking for is how much your heart beat slows during the first minute or two of rest.

The quicker your heart rate comes down, the better. If your heart rate comes down 22 to 52 beats during the first two minutes, your biological age is about the same as your calendar age. If it’s less than that, you may have health problems.

One study found that a reduction of the heart rate of less than 12 beats during the first minute after exercise was a “powerful and independent predictor of the risk of death.”

Smoking, drinking a lot of caffeine, anemia and thyroid disorders can elevate heart rate. A resting heart rate that is consistently high — even at the high end of normal — is reason to see your doctor.

If you notice a flutter, a flip flop or a missed beat or two while you’re taking your pulse, it’s probably nothing to worry about. Nearly everyone has an irregular beat from time to time. An irregular rhythm, though, is more serious. A substantial number of veteran endurance athletes develop atrial fibrillation, a heart arrhythmia.

Particularly during the early stages, atrial fibrillation (afib) strikes intermittently. You may have only occasional episodes when workouts become very difficult. Until you see a doctor, it’s probably a good idea to limit the intensity of your workouts.

Ultimately, no matter how healthy or fit you are, the beat is your clue to how efficiently you heart is doing its job.

Rupp is care coordinator for Long Term Care Authority of Enid Aging Services. Contact her at 237-2236.

Text Only
Enid Features
Featured Ads
AP Video
Texas Scientists Study Ebola Virus Smartphone Powered Paper Plane Debuts at Airshow Southern Accent Reduction Class Cancelled in TN Raw: Deadly Landslide Hits Indian Village Obama Chides House GOP for Pursuing Lawsuit New Bill Aims to Curb Sexual Assault on Campus Russia Counts Cost of New US, EU Sanctions 3Doodler Bring 3-D Printing to Your Hand Six PA Cops Indicted for Robbing Drug Dealers Britain Testing Driverless Cars on Roadways Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle At Least 20 Chikungunya Cases in New Jersey Raw: Obama Eats Ribs in Kansas City In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast Raw: Otters Enjoy Water Slides at Japan Zoo NCAA Settles Head-injury Suit, Will Change Rules Raw: Japanese Soldiers Storm Beach in Exercises Raw: Weapons Fire Hits UN School in Gaza Raw: Rocket Launches Into Space With Cargo Ship Broken Water Main Floods UCLA
NDN Video
Heartwarming 'Batkid Begins' Documentary is Tear-Jerker Orlando Bloom 'Takes a Swing' at Justin Bieber In Ibiza Pitch Invading Morons Cause Chaos - @TheBuzzeronFOX Sadie Doesn't Want Her Brother to Grow Up "Maxim" Hotness! See Jessica Alba's Sizzling Spread Two women barely avoid being hit by train Broken Water Main Floods UCLA Orlando Bloom and Justin Bieber Reportedly Came To Blows In Ibiza Meet the Man Behind Dumb Starbucks Chris Pratt Adorably Surprises Kids at a 'Guardians of the Galaxy' Screening NOW TRENDING: Peyton Manning dancing at practice "The Bachelorette" Makes Her Decision Thieves pick the wrong gas station to rob Golden Sisters on '50 Shades' trailer: 'Look At That Chest!' Staten Island Man's Emotional Dunk Over NYPD Car - @TheBuzzeronFOX GMA: Dog passes out from excitment to see owner Baseball Hall of Famers Inducted 'Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1' Sneak Peek Florida Keys Webcam Captures Turtles Hatching Morgan Freeman Sucks Down Helium on 'Tonight Show'
House Ads