Listen to your heart (rate)

Our bodies talk to us all the time, but how do we listen? One way is by using a watch that measures your heart rate.

Every night, I wear my Garmin Forerunner 255 watch to measure my resting heart rate (RHR) while I sleep. For most people, a normal range is from 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm). My average RHR is about 45 bpm.

Please don’t be alarmed by my low RHR (as many people often express shock when I show them my watch). It’s the result of my jogging habit (3 x 6km a week) and exercising regularly throughout my life. Most active athletes will have a RHR below 50 bpm, and mine will go as low as 39 bpm on some days.

The stronger your heart, the less it needs to beat in order to pump blood through your body, and that’s why everyone needs to exercise regularly. A strong heart reduces the risk of heart attacks.

The converse is true. From the Harvard Health Blog: “A 2013 study in the journal Heart tracked the cardiovascular health of about 3,000 men for 16 years and found that a high resting heart rate was linked with lower physical fitness and higher blood pressure, body weight, and levels of circulating blood fats.The researchers also discovered that the higher a person’s resting heart rate, the greater the risk of premature death. Specifically, an RHR between 81 and 90 doubled the chance of death, while an RHR higher than 90 tripled it.”

For me, I read my RHR every morning after I awake to regulate my physical and mental health. I can detect if I’m about to fall ill if I see the RHR creeping up. I will then take preventive action by getting more rest or avoiding unhealthy food. When I got COVID, I could tell if I was still infected as my RHR stayed in the 50+ bpm range for 10 days.

My Garmin watch also helps me to track my runs and compile other health metrics like blood oxygen levels. I don’t use an Apple Watch but it can do the same stuff. If you own a heart-monitoring watch, try wearing it to bed. You’d be surprised at what you can learn about your health!

Original LinkedIn Post here.