Heart of the matter


Today we are going to discuss heart rate during workout. First let us talk about blood pressure because it all fits in. Blood pressure has two components: Systolic (pressure created in the ventricle to push out blood) and Diastolic. For normal individuals the Systolic pressure ranges between 90 to 120 while the Diastolic pressure ranges between 60 to 80. Therefore, before you start workouts, check your blood pressure and if it is above this range, please talk to your doctor and get his/her permission to start your workouts. If your blood pressure is on the higher end of this range, avoid Caffeine and heart stimulants before workout.

You can find your heart rate by putting your finger on the pulse in your neck or wrist and counting the number of beats per minute. Your resting heart rate should not exceed 100 beats per minute. If it exceeds, you need to get that addressed by a doctor before you workout.

To find how hard you can exercise your heart, you need to find the maximum number of beats your heart can make in a minute. The formula for that is 220 – your age if you are a normal healthy individual. For example, if you are 48 years old, your max heart rate is 220 – 48 = 172 beats per minute.

For a beginner, the target heart rate should be between .55 to .64 of their max heart rate. This means you keep track of your pulse and increase or decrease intensity of your exercises so that your pulse does not exceed this level. In our example 172*.55 = 94.6 and 172*.65 = 112 bpm.

For some one that is not a beginner anymore, a target of .65 to 70 of max heart rate is recommended.

A better measure than Max heart rate is the Heart Rate Reserve. The reason it is better is because it takes into account the resting heart rate. For example, before you begin your workout when you are at rest, if your heart beats at say 70 bpm, then our calculation will now be 220 – 48= 172; 172 – 70 = 102 bpm. Therefore the target heart range for this beginner will be 102 *.55 = 56.1 bpm and 102 *.64 = 65 bpm. The reason this measure is superior is because it takes into account the cardio vascular system. Take the example of twins who take this formula; if their resting heart rate is different, so will their target heart rate for workout.

Stroke volume is the amount of blood the left ventricle can pump per beat. A typical male has a stroke volume of 70 ml. As one trains regularly, the stroke volume improves thus leading to lower heart beats delivering more blood. For example if your stroke volume is 70 and pulse is 60 beats per minute you will be pumping out 60 beats X 70 = 4200 ml per minute. When  you workout regularly and improve your stroke rate say to 75, then you will be pumping 4500 ml per minute.

As we learned earlier, while we work out, the body triggers the three energy systems and consumes oxygen at a higher rate. Your aerobic capacity is the ability of the body to extract and use Oxygen in the process of energy production. Therefore, the efficiency of the cardiovascular, respiratory and muscle system forms a chain where each of the three elements need to be strengthened.

Cardio respiratory recovery begins after exercise stops. Oxygen consumption remains elevated and is known as Excessive Post Oxygen Consumption or EPOC. Light activity leads to a very short recovery process that is almost unnoticeable. Intense activity may result in a longer time for recovery.

Take away: Consult your doctor before you start workout if your blood pressure is not normal. Calculate your resting heart rate and max heart rate. Try to workout within the target range of heart rate prescribed for beginner (between 55 and 64% of max heart rate) and intermediate (between 65% to 70% of max heart rate). Always check with your doctor as you increase your target heart rate.



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