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The heart of the matter: keeping yours healthy

POSTED Friday 7 February 2020

February, as well as being the month of love with Valentine’s Day, is also National Heart Month as declared by the British Heart Foundation, so we thought we’d chat to our Sports Physiologist, Rosa Dakin, about the importance of our hearts, and how to keep them ticking.


What is the heart?

The heart is a muscle, so, like any other muscle, regular exercise can increase its size, strength and functionality.


What is heart rate?

Heart rate is a term used to describe how many times the heart beats in a minute, measured in beats per minute (bpm). Heart rate is a very individual measure, however your maximum heart rate can be estimated using the equation 220 – age. With age the heart becomes less efficient, however completing regular exercise can combat this.


When we exercise, what happens to the heart and heart rate?

During exercise the working muscles require more oxygen to function, therefore heart rate increases to help deliver this oxygen to the working muscles via the blood.


What are the exercise recommendations for a healthy heart? 

The NHS recommend that we should complete 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day, whether that be a brisk walk or even mowing your lawn, and 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise e.g. jogging, swimming, or playing football with your friends.


What are the benefits of exercise on the heart?

Regular exercise is very important for a healthy heart, resulting in the heart becoming stronger and bigger, therefore becoming more efficient. More blood can be pumped out of the heart in a single beat, known as stroke volume. At rest this increase in efficiency will result in a lower resting heart rate. The best time to measure your resting heart rate is first thing in the morning when you wake up. Resting heart rate varies between people, so having an understanding of your typical resting heart rate can be a useful guide to monitor your health.


Top tip: many of the Technogym cardio equipment in both Sport & Fitness and Tiverton have heart rate monitors on the handles, so before and after your workout you can see your resting heart rate, your peak, and how long it takes to get back to resting. Plus, did you know many of the classes on the class timetable are just half an hour or 45 minutes long – the perfect way to raise your heart rate at lunchtime!


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