Over the past few years, you might have noticed a new focus on home fitness, fitness watches and smartwatches that can monitor your heart rate. Demand has grown for this type of technology because monitoring your heart rate is a fairly easy way to tell if you’re working out effectively and if your heart is getting stronger.
While there are tons of benefits to working out regularly including improved mood and a stronger body, improving your heart rate is one of the most enduring benefits of exercising. Strengthening your heart can help you live longer and help prevent heart attacks and heart disease.
When you first start working out, your muscles start to use more energy. To continue making energy, your muscles need more oxygen which is delivered via blood pumped from your heart. To meet the demand, your brain signals to your heart to pump oxygenated blood to your muscles faster, thereby increasing your heart rate.
Once the supply of oxygen delivered to your muscles meets the demand of their energy requirements, your heart rate plateaus and remains at that rate. If your effort increases or decreases, your heart rate adjusts to pump the right amount of oxygenated blood to your muscles.
As we exercise, our internal temperatures rise, causing us to sweat. Sweating draws water content from your blood, leaving less oxygenated blood flowing from your lungs to your muscles. To compensate, your heart rate increases. This water loss is why it’s so important to drink water during your workout, especially if you’re sweating a lot. Excessive stress on your heart through dehydration will do more harm than good.
When you stop exercising, your body doesn’t need as much oxygen delivered to the muscles. However, your brain still signals to the rest of your body that your muscles still need oxygen to help in the recovery process. This is why your heart rate will still be elevated a few minutes to even an hour after working out. Lactic acid removal might take a few minutes while protein repair might take closer to an hour.
Heart Rate Training
Heart rate training or, simply put, challenging cardiovascular exercise performed over months and years will have several positive impacts on your body and your heart. When your cardiovascular system is trained, the walls of your heart thicken, making them pump more powerfully. Cardio also allows the chambers of your heart to expand farther and pump more efficiently. These conditions mean your heart can move more blood per pump and not put in as much effort.
As you train your heart through cardiovascular exercise, you’ll notice your resting heart rate will drop. You’ll also notice when you work out, your heart rate adjusts much faster because it can get oxygen to your muscles more efficiently.
Exercise Regularly to Strengthen Your Heart
Many people forget that your heart is a muscle that needs to be exercised regularly. Just like a leg or arm muscle, the harder and more consistently your heart is worked, the stronger it gets.
When you strengthen your heart, you’ll notice workouts become easier and, when you exert yourself, your heart rate adjusts faster to get oxygen to your muscles. Your resting heart rate also drops because your heart can pump blood more efficiently.
Apart from reaping the benefits of a more efficient workout, having a strong heart helps fight off heart disease and tacks on a few extra years to your life. So, if you want to live a long, healthy life, strengthen your heart!
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