200,000 Heart Beats – Way easier than you think!
When I tell people about my Wellness Challenge (200,000 Heart Beats) they seem really impressed – like it’s going to take some type of supra-human effort and supreme discipline to work out 50 times this winter, beating my heart once during exercise for each person diagnosed with cancer in Canada this year.
The reality is that literally anyone could do this Challenge. From professional athlete to never have exercised in your life – your heart is going to beat for you. It’s way easier than you think. Let’s take an extreme example of someone who was totally out of shape to show it’s possible for all of us. Geoff Eaton, the founder and director of Young Adult Cancer Canada, describes waking up from being in a coma for over 3 weeks. The muscles in his body had melted away, so he could hardly give his friends a high-five – and his mother had to brush his teeth. At age 23, Geoff had undergone a bone-marrow transplant and had nearly died of a infection as a complication of this super high dose chemo. He resolved to slowly build himself up by doing just a bit more exercise each day, starting with modified sit-ups (going from 45 degrees incline to sitting up straight). After 3 weeks of ‘training’ he was able to take his first 5-step ‘walk’ from his bed to sofa. Geoff would have been well on his way to 200,000 heart beats.
Geoff’s story is inspiring, and I share it to show you how easily you can make your heart beat 200,000 times during exercise. Let’s say you choose an easy challenge like walking around your house/apartment for 30 minutes a day, five days a week (fulfilling the suggested minimum exercise requirement of 150 minutes per week). Like Geoff, you don’t have to do your daily exercise all in one session. Three workouts of 10 minutes each will give you the suggested 30 minutes of daily exercise. To help make the heart beat calculations convenient you could take your heart rate once during exercise and use it as the average beats per minute for the remainder of the challenge – no need for fancy heart rate monitors, or repeated measurements.
Even during the easiest of exercise most people get their heart rate above 120. So, at minimum, during 30 minutes exercise you’ll beat your heart 3600 times. To reach 200,000 Heart Beats you’ll need to exercise for a maximum of 27.8 hours (converts to just over 10 weeks at 150 minutes of exercise per week). You could slowly build up your exercise each day over the first few weeks, and extend the total number of weeks accordingly.
To help keep track of your progress you can also download this 200000 Heart Beats worksheet excel file . You can type in your average number of heart beats per minute (seen in the third column of the worksheet) and the program will update the average heart rate for all the subsequent sessions. You can use this file electronically, inputting the number of minutes of exercise each time, and the program will calculate your total heart beats to date. Or you can print out the worksheet and hang it on your fridge, penciling your running total.
Please share your challenge For example #200000HeartBeats #2017WellnessChallenge -We’d like to share the stories of people dancing around their kitchen, or power walking their dogs, skating, swimming, doing yoga,….. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org
Have fun! Make it social!! Exercise. Exercise. Exercise.
Here’s to a healthier and happier 2017.
Rob Rutledge, MD