Today modern gadgets are marketed only as fitness pals, because that’s what the market demands. However, a more sophisticated consumer can quickly realize that he can do more than just fit into cardio or fat burning zones.
What can resting heart rate tell?
One of those hidden yet extremely useful health parameters is resting heart rate. Resting heart rate is not just any random number, but an important predictor of longevity. It is generally accepted that the resting pulse correlates with cardiovascular fitness, but few people know that it also correlates with longer life.
Quite a few studies have suggest that heart rate-longevity correlation is true and this phenomenon isn`t limited to humans. Apparently every warm-blooded species has a predetermined maximum number of heart beats. But their final life span depends largely on how fast these heart beats are spent.
Different fates of one billion strokes
Although an elephant, a cat, or a horse has the same billion of strokes to use, they live to a different age. This is because of differences in their physiology.
- Elephant: HR – 30; Longevity – 70 years
- Horse: HR – 44; Longevity – 40 years
- Cat: HR – 150; Longevity – 15 years
Supposedly all mammals are bound by this law, but humans have special privileges. We have about two billion beats. But even though we start with the same number of strokes at birth we end up living to a different age. Some people live to be 100, while others just reach to 60. According to heart rate-longevity theory this is due to individual differences in heart speed.
How much is heart rate worth?
Mathematical modelling of human lifespan suggests that a person with a resting pulse of 70 should reach 73 years of age. Individuals with slower heart beats should live proportionally longer and those with faster heart beats should expect a shorter life. This is how long you’d live with a heart rate of…
- Resting HR – 55; Maximum lifespan 90 years
- Resting HR – 60; Maximum lifespan 80 years
- Resting HR – 65; Maximum lifespan 76 years
- Resting HR – 75; Maximum lifespan 66 years
- Resting HR – 80; Maximum lifespan 62 years
Although this is only a mathematical model and the predicted numbers are not going to be exact, we should take this math lesson to “heart”. Since lower heart rate reflects higher ability to cope with stress and higher cardiovascular fitness, we should consider this number to be an important marker of good health.
Your Fitbit or Microsoft band as well as any other gadget with a continuous heart rate monitoring feature will be able to give you your resting heart rate. Consult this feature periodically to see how your lifestyle reflects life expectancy and if your fitness efforts are rewarded properly.
How low can you go?
You should see a drop in resting heart rate only after a few days of aerobic exercise and/or a few sessions of meditation. If your efforts are not reflected in lower heart pulse within a week, you are not doing things right. Change your exercise routine or invest in a good stress management course.
Many athletes have heart beats in the range of 40-50 per minute. Lance Armstrong’s, the world-known cyclist, apparently has a pulse of 32. Whether he will live to his estimated 150 we are yet to see.
Food for thought
I have a FitBit. I watch it daily. My pulse fluctuates from 63 to 73 depending on the stress of the day. With resting heart rate of 63 I can live till 78. With a heart rate of 73 I can live only to 67. That makes me think.
Stress or longevity? Maybe it’s time to re-evaluate priorities.