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From the Desk of Dr. Len

Why Does Aerobic Exercise Lower My Heart Rate

Dr. Len Lopez - Thursday, September 21, 2017

Your heart rate is a great indicator for overall cardiac health.  Your heart beats to send blood and oxygen to your muscles, so your muscle can keep doing whatever physical exercise you are doing.  The more aerobically conditioned you are the slower you heart beats. 


The more intense your physical activity – the faster your heart beats.  The basic goal of your beating heart is to send blood and oxygen to your muscles.  This allows you to keep on walking, jogging, shoveling snow, whatever.


The basic goal of aerobic training is to expand your ‘aerobic’ capacity, your aerobic threshold - so your red blood cells can carry more oxygen.  Think of it like a bucket brigade that is needed to carry water to put a fire out.  The more aerobically conditioned you are the bigger the bucket of water (oxygen) you can carry to the fire.  The less conditioned individual or coach potato, who has a lower aerobic threshold will deliver as many buckets to the fire, but his bucket carries a lot less water (oxygen).  His buckets are smaller and can't carry as much!  Don't make the classic aerobic mistake!


The fact that the less conditioned person isn’t carrying as much water (oxygen) in his bucket, means his bucket brigade needs to move faster in order to transport the needed oxygen to those burning muscles.  In essence, your heart needs to beat faster in order to carry the same amount of water (oxygen) to the fire as a better aerobically conditioned person.  


The water brigade for the less conditioned person is only conditioned and capable, because of a lack of aerobic exercise, of carrying pints of water, so to speak.  However, the more aerobically conditioned person has developed a larger carrying capacity for oxygen is carrying almost gallons of water.  This means he can transport as much water (oxygen) to those burning muscles at a slower heart rate, as the less conditioned person. 


The bottom line is aerobic exercise makes your heart more efficient at transporting oxygen to the body.  Therefore, your heart muscle has to work less and beats less, which is a good thing.  So, make sure you include some aerobic training in your daily life – and don’t make the classic mistake that about 90% of the population makes when it comes to aerobic training....which is to walk, jog, run, bike, swim, dance, etc....to fast for what they are aerobically conditioned for.










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