The past couple of weeks, you may have been watching the Olympics! It's pretty amazing to see some of the best athletes in the world compete! Of course, not all of us are at that level. So why is fitness important? Think about it. Sure, you have to be fit to do well in sports, but not everyone cares about sports, and that's okay! What’s the incentive to stay fit?
Facts about fitness:
- People who exercise frequently have healthier hearts.
- Healthier hearts are less likely to have heart disease or strokes.
- Exercising causes your body to release endorphins, which then make you feel better! Some runners describe this as a “runner’s high.” All I know is that whenever I’m having a bad day and I exercise, I am in a better mood afterwards!
More reasons to exercise:
- Strengthens your muscles
- Improves mental health
- Strengthens heart muscles
- Counteracts unwanted weight gain
- Reduces some health risks, such as diabetes and depression
- Increases endurance and energy
There are many ways to determine fitness, such as VO2 max (oxygen used while exercising at capacity), flexibility, body fat percentage, etc. But today, we are going to focus on heart rate.
Vo2 max testing:
Normal resting heart rates:
- Infants: 100-160 beats per minute
- Children 1-10 years old: 70-120 beats per minute
- Over 10: 60-100 beats per minute
How can you improve your heart health?
Now that you know a little bit about heart health and why it’s important, let’s test our resting heart rate! (Use the data sheet below to record your results)
- Data sheet
- Clock or stopwatch
Use this video to help you find your pulse if you have trouble:
- Place two fingers on the inside of your wrist to find your pulse. If you have a difficult time locating your pulse, place two fingers on your neck, just below your jaw. Whether you choose to use your wrist or your neck, continue to use the same spot for the rest of the activity, for sake of consistency.
- Have your partner watch the clock for 15 seconds. In those 15 seconds, you should count how many beats you feel. Record your results.
- Repeat step 2 two more times.
- Average the three results, and then multiply by 4 to calculate your average resting heart rate in beats/minute.
Next, you are going to figure out your heart recovery rate.
Predict: How long do you think it will take your heart to return to its resting rate?
YOU WILL DO
- Do 50 jumping jacks.
- Find your pulse in the same spot that you used earlier.
- Have your partner watch the clock for 15 seconds while you count your beats.
- Record in your data sheet in the column titled, “Pulse Rate (Beats per 15 seconds).”
- Continue to take your pulse every minute for 7 minutes and record results in your data sheet.
- Multiply each result by 4 to find your beats per minute for each minute recorded. Record in table titled, “Pulse Rate per Minute (Beats Per 15 Seconds x 4).”
Now, you are going to graph your heart recovery rate:
- Open Microsoft Excel, or other spreadsheet program, on a computer
- Create two columns: one for time (in minutes), the other for Change in heartrate over your resting rate (in Beats per Minute). Your spreadsheet will look something like this:
- Run one mile as fast as you can (if you don’t have access to a track, set a certain distance, such as around the block).
- Find your heart recovery rate.
- Repeat weekly to see how you improve your time AND your heart recovery rate!
- Do as many pushups as you can.
- Find your heart recovery rate.
- Repeat weekly to see how you increase your number AND decrease your heart recovery rate!
Are there certain activities that you recover from quicker? Try out different exercises and compare recovery rates.
Why does heart recovery rate even matter? How could having a slower recovery time affect you?
Images and videos, in order of appearance:
Memorial Hermann, 2013. VO2 max test: What to expect. Uploaded from Youtube on 8/21/2016. https://youtu.be/fn3Yr-LS_l0
Nova, 2007. Marathon challenge. Uploaded from pbs.org on 8/21/2016. No changes were made.
eHow, 2009. Hospital basics: How to check your heart rate. Uploaded from Youtube.com on 8/21/2016. https://youtu.be/Wda4MeCSYyE
Excel images and instructions created by Dr. Erin Nyren-Erickson.