Often times a patient will come to the office and ask about how to take better care of their heart and my answer goes something like this:
A machine that does not move is prone to stick, malfunction and break. The human body is no different. The more sedentary a person is, the more likely they are to be unhealthy. Most of us tend to be totally unaware of what our body is doing, right under our noses.
For example, a healthy heart beats roughly 60 times per minute, which is about 3600 times an hour or 86,400 times a day, 31.5 million times a year and about 2.5 billion times in a lifetime.
Now, you might think that more beats mean better heart health, but that’s not exactly true. If we are not healthy, the number of beats per minute goes way up. This is because the heart doesn’t have enough strength to pump all the blood it needs in each beat, so it increases the number of beats to make up for it. The average American has a resting heart rate in the neighborhood of 77 beats per minute. As this number of beats per minute increases, the worse it gets. This is because the only rest the heart gets is between beats. That’s it. So you can see that the faster it beats on a routine basis the more likely it is to cave-in under pressure (i.e. heart attacks).
So our job is to reduce its workload in some way, so as to extend and ensure a longer lifespan.Think of exercise as getting the rust out of the machine (your body). The heart loves exercise and needs it. Even simply laying down and doing bicycle kicks in the air with your legs during TV commercials is better than nothing. Or taking a 10 minute walk helps!
The more the heart gets used to pumping during exercise, the slower it eventually beats at rest. Two weeks of working out for 20 minutes a day, can reduce ones heart rate noticeably. Remember, fewer beats mean more rest for the heart, which means a healthier and longer life.
What else can we do to increase the life of this organ that only rests between heartbeats? Plenty! We can increase its oxygen supply, we can make its blood supply more pure, reduce the body weight, eat a diet that is conducive to heart health. We can sleep when we are supposed to sleep and rise when we are supposed to rise, even reduce stress that we know affect this mighty pumping machine.
Health is not a mystery- if we work on it- we can achieve it.
As your doctor, I am here to help you accomplishing those goals!