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Fitness and IT

Would you believe that the most important part of getting in shape is how well you rest after a workout? That is correct. In order for your muscles to gain from the workout you have given them, they must have the proper rest. Did you also know that the more fit you are the better you are at resting? Well, could you tell me what muscle you should be most concerned with when you do work out? I will give you a hint. It is also the muscle you should be most concerned about resting. That is correct. Your heart is the most important muscle in the body and it is also the muscle that needs to rest. One of the best tools in the fitness industry for watching the heart’s progress in fitness is a simple watch, two fingers and a notebook. There are more sophisticated devices that you could use like a heart rate monitor that I use on our expedition.


Let me explain first what a heart rate monitor does and then I will show you how you can check your heart’s ability to rest using your watch and two fingers.

There are two pieces to a heart rate monitor. One is a elastic strap with two sensors that wrap around your torso. The other is a watch that picks up the two sensor readings and displays them on the watch face continuously. What the sensors are sending to the watch is each beat of the heart. The computer in the watch computes the amount of beats per minute and displays that for the athlete. “But why?” you ask?

This heart rate monitor allows the athlete to know if he has reached his aerobic level of training. It also lets the athlete know whether they have not reached it yet or has gone over their target heart rate. Aerobic training is the specific training of the heart through body movement such as Mountain Biking. Anaerobic is what you get when you have gone over your aerobic level and have started to starve your heart from oxygen. I have gone well over my aerobic heart rate on this trip and rest has been the key to compensate for it. The heart rate monitor will give you the distance between your aerobic level, for me it is 145 beats per minute, and my final resting heart rate, which for me has been 80 beats per minute. How quickly I get from 150 beats per minute to 80 beats per minute gives me a good indication of my hearts fitness. How do these numbers let me know if I am resting my heart enough after a workout? In part, as I check the measurements it will show that my heart goes to rest quicker than it had before. That is when I get my heart to 150 and then stop my exercise the time it takes my heart to come back to rest at 80 beats per minute should decrease as my training goes on. The final measurement is my “waking heart rate”. If I leave the device on and I look at it right as I get up in the morning it should read even less than my resting heart rate. For me my “waking heart rate” has been 62 to 65. This is the best indication that I am keeping my heart fit and rested. A well-rested muscle will last longer and perform better.

Okay, you try it. Take a watch in your left hand and with your two fingers, index and forefinger, onto your neck just below your jaw and ear. Can you feel the pulses? That is your heart beating. Now count how many beats there are in ten seconds and times that number by 6. That is your heartbeats per minute. Write it down and than-do the same when you get up the next morning and write it down. Go ride your bike for 30 minutes then immediately take your heart rate. Once that has been done count the number of seconds it take your heart to get from your highest number back down to the beats per minute you wrote down yesterday. What in the end that you are looking for is if your waking heart rate goes up, stays the same or goes down. Going up wouldn’t be the result you are looking for. Now if you want to do a quicker experiment on why your heart needs as much rest as exercise than try this.

Put your hand out all the way as if to shake some ones hand. Turn your palm to the sky. Now, like the beat of your heart, open and close your hand swiftly (open, close open, close…) for two minutes. I bet you can’t for a whole 5 minutes before your hand gives up. Now while you are doing this remember that your heart must never stop doing what your hand is doing. The heart can’t take a lunch break or a weekend holiday. The heart must keep beating all the time. Okay, you can stop opening and closing your hand now. But try to open and close your hand as relaxed and as slow as you can now. Notice a difference? That is the kind of break or holiday we can give our heart with good fitness. Be it a heart rate monitor or just taking your pulse, you can tell whether you’re giving your heart the rest it needs.

Mick Roney


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 19, 2001 7:47 PM.

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