How strong is your heart? Should you make your heart muscle stronger? How does this impact your health?
All good questions. First, it’s important to recognize that your heart is a very powerful muscle! Like the muscles in your arms or legs, the heart muscle can become stronger through physical activity. The stronger your heart the more efficient it becomes. The heart like the human body, is a machine which is designed to run a lifetime-a miracle in itself! So anything we can do to make the heart more efficient, the greater the probability that it will run a lifetime without disease or dysfunction.
For most individuals, the heart beats 70-80 beats per minute. Let’s look at what that means on a larger scale. For example, if we use an average of 75 beats per minute, the heart beats 4,500 times an hour, 108,000 times in one day, and nearly 40 million beats in one year. So in a lifetime, your heart beats more than 2.5 billion times.
Imagine what it would mean for your heart if it would beat five beats per minute less but still do the same amount of work. Just that small change would save your heart nearly 3 million beats per year. The good news is that this is very doable. Moderate physical activity has been shown to help lower your resting heart rate, thus making your heart more efficient. This efficiency is not only realized while resting, but also during physical activity. The body does more work but with fewer heart beats.
During the process of making your heart more efficient through physical activity, your body becomes more healthy as measured by a lower blood pressure, an improved blood lipid panel, a decreased risk for diabetes, and a healthier body weight.
By focusing on making your heart more efficient, all other aspects of your body become healthier-a real win-win!