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Examining heart beats and their impact to health

Running and Fitness
Saturday, September 22, 2018

This week is a vacation repeat from a few years ago. It is always fun to go over how runners are always checking their pulse rates and non-runners are accusing them of using up all the heart beats they have left in life.  Runners use pulse rates to check the intensity of a run, signs of overtraining, recovery time, and resting pulse rates. This article all started from reading a short paragraph in Reader’s Digest by L. M. Boyd. The short paragraph mentioned that the heart pumps enough blood each year to fill 200 tank cars at 8,000 gallons each. That amounts to 1,600,000 gallons of blood each year, or 4,383.5 gallons a day.  That is a lot of circulation to take care of in one day. For that amount of work your heart better be fit, strong, and in good condition.

Of course, along with this work by the heart, and the number of beats your heart has per minute, you have the individual who still believes that you only have so many heart beats in your life assigned to you from birth. The theory is that if you run you use up a lot of those beats, and in the long run, you will just shorten your life when your number of beats reaches that magic number you’ve be given. Now to pump over 4,000 gallons of blood each day (one half of a large tank car) you can fill that tank car with a small spoon or a large bucket. Which would be more work?

The average pulse rate for a man is 72 beats per minute, and for a woman it is 80 beats per minute.  Since there are 1,440 minutes in a day that means for the average man the heart beats 103,680 times every day.  For an average woman it beats 115,200 times a day.  The numbers begin to add up quite fast at that rate. An average heart rate for a good male runner is close to 50 beats per minute, for a female runner it can be less than 60 beats per minute. That amounts to 72,000 beats per day for a man and 86,400 beats per day for a woman. Of course, the runner picks up that heart rate while they are running, and that is what the individual who does not run is counting on for them to use up their assigned heart beats. Assuming a runner gets that heart rate up to 140 beats per minute for one hour that amounts to 8,400 extra heart beats added to their total.  For a 60 beat per minute average the total is now 94,800.  For a 50 beat per minute the total is now 80,400. And that is if the runner keeps the pulse rate up there for the full hour. A non-runner will argue that even after a hard run the heart rate will still be higher.  Most studies on good runners show that after one minute the heart rate slows down to 120 beats per minute. After three minutes the heart rate is below 100 beats per minute.  And after 15 minutes the heart rate returns to its normal number of heart beats.

Going back to the original numbers since the non-runner will increase his or her pulse rate just as high, or possibly higher, when they climb a flight of stairs, or walk to their lunch hour. This means that on a daily average, a runner who has a pulse rate of 50 beats per minute has 34,800 less beats per day than the 80 beats average pulse rate person, and 23,280 beats less per day than the 72 beats per minute person. And for the runner’s pulse rate the lower 50 beats per minute are 13,600 beats less than the 60 beats per minute runner.

Remember that tank car that the heart is going to fill half way up in a day?  How would you feel doing an extra 23,280 to 34,800 extra spoons full of work every day?  If you are one of the people who think you only have so many heart beats in a lifetime you better start running to catch up on your life span. Adding the 23,280 beats per day more than a runner for a year has you using up 8,497,200 beats more in a year. And for the individual at the 34,800 extra beats per day has a grand total of 12,702,000 beats more than a runner in a year. Think that over and see what this running sport does to your theory of a limited number of heart beats. Looking at the theory of a shorter life span for runners, and how running uses up those heart beats, the numbers seem to prove otherwise.

The heart is an amazing organ, and when you take the time to look at numbers that register in the millions of beats in a year, you can only imagine how wonderful the heart is. Take good care of it and your life time will thank you for it.   

San Marcos Record

(512) 392-2458
P.O. Box 1109, San Marcos, TX 78666