Okay, I’ve jabbered on, a time or two, about my heart rate.
Harvard Health Publishing has been studying heart rate as it relates to heart health and it turns out that resting heart rate is a primary indicator of heart health.
A “normal” RHR is generally considered around 72, with the normal range anywhere from 60 to 100, but the higher the number, the greater your risk for heart disease.
First, let us not confuse cause and correlation here. A low RHR is not a cause of heart health, and a high RHR is not a cause of heart disease, it is simply a measure. But a measure of what?
Something I’ve alluded to in past articles – fitness level.
According to Harvard Health Publishing, a lower RHR is a sign of higher fitness levels, and a higher RHR a sign of lower fitness levels. It is the fitness level that we’re concerned with here, as fitter people are generally at a lower risk of cardiovascular disease than less fit people.
What does this mean in the real world?
Well, how about this…a lower RHR is associated with a lowered risk of death from all causes. The risk of death increases 16% per 10 beats per minute rise in RHR, meaning that not all “normal” RHRs are created equal.
60 bpm is healthier than 70 bpm is healthier than 80 bpm is healthier than…you get the idea.
Okay, Andrew, that’s all well and good. I can measure my RHR and get an idea of whether my heart is healthy or not, but what do I do to lower my RHR?
Have you read nothing on this site for the last year?
GET IN SHAPE
That’s right, put down the remote and move. Exercise. Workout. Sweat. Strain. Lift. Run. Bike. Hike. Swim. Paddle.
Yes, I know the kung flu makes that harder nowadays, but harder doesn’t mean impossible. You can at least take a walk. You can workout at home. My yoga club is closed for the duration, but they’re doing classes via Zoom. This weekend I did an Inferno Pilates class in my living room:
- 536 calories
- 12 min in fat burn heart rate zone
- 26 min in cardio heart rate zone
- 18 min in peak heart rate zone
- 171 BPM max heart rate
Why bring up Inferno Pilates?
Because it’s high intensity interval training, and here we circle back to Harvard Health Publishing. They also studied the effects of exercise on resting heart rate. Short version; the higher the intensity of exercise, the greater the effect on RHR, and this study was done on men over the age of 55.
Simply put, the harder you exercise, the better your fitness, the lower your risk of death from all causes. And you can get a quick measure of your progress by measuring and tracking your resting heart rate.
So once again we return to one of my favourite quotes:
You’re never too old, never too bad, never too late and never too sick to start from the scratch once again.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. Put down the remote, get up off the couch, and move.