What is a Healthy Heart Beat?
We’ve all experienced the feeling of our “heart beating out of our chest.” What should a healthy heart beat be?
The rhythm of the heartbeat can vary greatly between people. Research has indicated the average resting pulse for an American male is 70 beats per minute (or 4200 hertz), while the average American woman is 75-80 beats per minute (or 4500-4800 Hz). A resting pulse of 60-70 is considered healthy. However, healthy people who exercise regularly may register a resting pulse of between 50 and 60 beats per minute. One study showed that only three months of exercise reduced the heart rates of formerly sedentary middle-aged men (45-55 years old) from an average of 72 BPM to 55 BPM. Highly conditioned athletes can have resting pulses far lower than these. Competitive distance runners can have average resting pulses of 45 BPM while some marathon runners have rates into the mid-30 BPM range.
The heart rate can rise significantly during stress. In a study of fourth-grade teachers, their heart rates would rise from 75 BPM to 110 BPM when they rose from their desks to speak to the children.
The connection between pain, fear, stress and the heart has been made repeatedly through study and observation. Most of us have heard of stories of deaths by heart attack during a fearful moment. This is illustrated by firefighter death statistics. One might think the vast majority of firefighter deaths come from being burned in fires. The statistics, however, consistently show that significant numbers die from cardiovascular events.
Firefighter deaths and the heart
The Federal Emergency Management Agency released a 2005 report on 2004 deaths among firefighters, for example. Of 107 firefighter deaths nationwide in 2004, 49 resulted from either stroke or heart attack. Most of us know that fear can lead to heart attack. Most, however, do not realize that anger also leads to many heart attacks. About 36,000 people experience heart attacks each year in the United States as a result of being angry.
Television can also be a source of stress that can dramatically raise the heart rate. This is because television programs can be stressful. Dramas and sporting events can be especially stressful on television. Studies have shown that the chance of having a heart attack is significantly higher while watching a sporting event on television.
Studies have also confirmed that the dramatic rise in heart rate during anxious moments experienced by sedentary people is significantly lower in those who exercise regularly, thereby reducing the risk of heart attack among those who exercise regularly.